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Fort McHenry Ready for a Battle in Saturday's Smooth Air
Complexifier to Do What He Does Best in Buffalo Man
Juvenile Showcase Kicks Off Gulfstream Stakes Schedule
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Expectations for Fort McHenry were obviously high when Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor bought the son of Tapit for $1.1 million at the 2018 Keeneland September sale.
Being a half-brother to California Chrome, the two-time Horse of the Year who won the 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1), has done nothing to lessen hopes for the Todd Pletcher-trained 2-year-old.
Fort McHenry will have the opportunity to take a big step toward living up to expectations in Saturday’s $75,000 Smooth Air at Gulfstream Park.
The Smooth Air will be one of six stakes on the Juvenile Showcase program that will kick off the 2019-2020 Championship Meet stakes schedule of 96 stakes, including 39 graded stakes, worth $28.6 million in purses.
Fort McHenry is coming off a dominating 5 ½-length victory in a mile maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 2.
The Kentucky-bred colt debuted at Saratoga Aug. 17, finishing fifth after pressing the pace during a wide trip in an off-the-turf seven-furlong. He showed marked improvement when sent around two turns for the first time in a mile maiden event at Gulfstream Park West Oct. 4, closing steadily to finish second, beaten by three-quarters of a length after stalking the pace on the outside.
Fort McHenry recovered from a stumbling start in his Nov. 2 maiden-breaking win to take command rounding into the backstretch and drew off to a comfortable score.
“It seems like his last two races he’s starting to put things together,” Pletcher said. “He’s an exciting colt, a half-brother to California Chrome, so we’re happy to see him making progress.”
Luis Saez is scheduled to ride Fort McHenry for the first time Saturday.
The Smooth Air will feature a rematch between Fort McHenry and Gemo, who edged the Todd Pletcher-trained colt by three-quarters of a length Oct. 14 at the mile distance.
Rodrigo Cunha’s homebred colt got the jump on Fort McHenry to hold a clear lead in the stretch and continued gamely to hold off the favorite. Trained by Rohan Crichton, the son of Gemologist had previously finished off the board in his debut before finishing a game third in his second start.
Jeffrey Sanchez has the return mount.
OGMA Investments LLC’s Soros, who finished second behind Fort McHenry in his Nov. 2 debut, will seek to break his maiden in the Smooth Air. The Gustavo Delgado-trained son of Commissioner finished 5 ½ lengths behind the Pletcher trainee in his debut while finishing another 5 ½ lengths clear of the third-place finisher. Hall of Famer Edgard Prado has the return mount.
Stud Recoveco LLC’s Peruvian Boy is scheduled to make his first start since being transferred to trainer Antonio Sano Saturday. The son of Tapiture finished fourth in the Saratoga Special (G2) and third in the Arlington Washington Futurity.Peruvian Boy will be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo.
Arindel’s Poe will stretch out to a mile after winning an entry-level optional claiming allowance and finishing third in the Juvenile Sprint at 6 ½ furlongs in two recent starts at Gulfstream Park West. Trainer Stanley Gold has awarded the return mount aboard the son of Brethren to Jairo Rendon.
Arindel’s Genghis returns to dirt after finishing third in the Juvenile Turf for Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park West last time out. Rajiv Maragh will ride the Juan Alvarado-trained colt.
D’archer, Gangly,At the Beach and My First Grammy round out the field.
Complexifier to Do What He Does Best in Buffalo Man
As thoroughly dominating as Complexifier’s two most recent starts may have been, trainer Brian Lynch hasn’t let himself catch Derby Fever.
Fort Springs Racing’s Complexifier will conclude his 2-year-old season in the $75,000 Buffalo Man, a six-furlong sprint on Saturday’s Juvenile Showcase program at Gulfstream Park, without any expectations that he will be a player on the 2020 Triple Crown trail.
“I think he’s primarily a six- to seven-furlong horse. I don’t have any ambitions to stretch him out too far,” Lynch said. “In a perfect world, he could be a [H. Allen Jerkens], Woody Stephens-type horse for next year.”
Complexifier has won his last two starts going away, breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs in his third career race Sept. 20 by 2 ½ lengths before winning an entry-level optional claiming allowance at Keeneland Oct. 17 also by 2 ½ lengths. Both scores were at six furlongs.
“He knocked at the door his first couple starts at Saratoga and we got lucky enough to break his maiden at Churchill. He came back and won a nice a-other-than at Keeneland,” Lynch said. “He seems like he’s trying to go in the right direction.”
The Kentucky-bred son of Overanalyze debuted July 27 at Saratoga, where he close with a wide run to finish third at 5 ½ furlongs. He bobbled at the start in his next start at Saratoga before recovering to finish second.
“He’s always been a hiccup-free little horse. He always worked good. His first couple races, he just needed to work it out. It seems like he’s got it now,” Lynch said.
Nik Juarez has been named to ride Complexifier for the first time.
Daniel Damen’s Ricki Ticki Taffi earned a shot to run in the Buffalo Man with a gutsy maiden-breaking performance at Gulfstream Park Aug. 25. The son of Field Commander, who finished fourth in his debut after a less-than-ideal trip, set a pressured pace while scoring by a nose.
“In his maiden, he was game. A horse passed him and he battled back and beat him,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He’s trained forwardly from the gate. He’s going to need to improve again, but one thing about him is that he is a hard-trying horse. He’s very gutsy.”
Samy Camacho has the mount.
Gary and Mary West’s Went West will enter the Buffalo Man off a debut score. The son of Union Rags rallied from far back to score by three lengths at Parx Oct. 25.
Trainer Jason Servis awarded the mount aboard the Kentucky-bred colt to Luis Saez.
Magic Stables LLC’s and Top Racing LLC’s Iberico, who rebounded from an off-the-board finish in the Saratoga Special (G2) to win an entry-level optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park Sept. 21, will seek his third victory in his last four starts Saturday.
Santiago Gonzalez has the mount aboard the Antonio Sano-trained son of Dialed In.
Jacks or Better Farm’s Shivaree is scheduled to run in the Buffalo Man just seven days after winning a seven-furlong maiden special weight race by 9 ½ lengths.
Emisael Jaramillo has the mount aboard the Ralph Nick’s trained half-brother to multiple stakes-winning Garter and Tie, who captured the Smooth Air last season.
Sun Squall, Aycapote and Dialed In Gold round out the field.