In the first 32 runnings of the Palm Beach Stakes, participants have included Kitten’s Joy, Newsdad, Mr Speaker, Divisidero, Kissin Kris, Reporting Star, Paddy O’Prado, Rydilluc…and more.
The list is long of 3-year-olds who have come out of the turf race and gone on to bigger things. The connections of seven entries hope their colts and geldings follow in the wake of those graded stakes winners come Saturday.
One of the favorites in the 1 1/16-mile event is Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Speed Franco (pictured). A son of Declaration of War who fetched $170,000 as a yearling, Speed Franco enters the Palm Beach off a gutsy performance in the one-mile Feb. 3 Dania Beach when he got his nose down at the wire to win a stretch battle against Zayat Stables LLC’s Gidu. It was the first graded-stakes victory for the Gustavo Delgado colt, who won the one-mile Pulpit Stakes in December.
“He’s a very nice horse,” said Delgado. When asked about going the Palm Beach’s additional distance, Delgado smiled, pointed to the sky, and said, “I just need a little good luck.”
Trainer David Fawkes will saddle one of only three stakes winners in the field in Renaisance Frolic. A winner of the Armed Forces last fall, Renaisance Frolic was beaten less than a length Jan. 6 in the Kitten’s Joy. The bay colt comes into the Palm Beach off a troubled fifth in the Feb. 3 Dania Beach.
“It was a weird situation,” said Fawkes, whose son of Paynter was bumped at the start. “When he got to the turn, right when the horse who finished second made his move, my rider was taking back and going around. It wasn’t his fault, he thought he would have to wait too long. So while the horse who finished second goes up the rail we got carried out.
“But he’s doing great. We’ll have Javier on the horse, and he had a real nice work,” he added.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, seeking an unprecedented 15th consecutive Championship Meet title, will send out Maraud. A son of Blame owned by Treadway Racing Stable, Maraud broke his maiden on the turf in his career debut Sept. 2 at Saratoga before finishing third, beaten less than a length, in the Pilgram at Belmont Park Sept. 30. After finishing third at Gulfstream Park Dec. 9 in the Pulpit, Maraud came back Jan. 13 and won by two lengths in an entry-level allowance at the track Jan. 13.
“He’s doing well,” Pletcher said. “He’s coming off a nice allowance win here so we’ve kind of zeroed in on this spot for quite a while. He’s training well. He had a good breeze.”
Therapist, a New York-bred son of Freud, enters the Palm beach undefeated in three starts for trainer Christophe Clement. After breaking his maiden in his debut at Belmont Park in July, Therapist won the Laurel Futurity in September and the Awad Stakes at Belmont in October. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides.
Hawkish, trained by Jimmy Toner, will be making only his second start. The son of Artie Schiller drove past 11 others at Gulfstream to break his maiden Jan. 6 after racing ninth early and entering the stretch seventh. Jose Ortiz rides.
The field is completed by Eye of a Jedi and Neepawa.
Edited Gulfstream Park release
Photo by Leslie Martin