Ft. Lauderdale: Maker Hoping Pair Earn Chance At Pegasus Turf, Channel Cat Returns From Layoff

Upset winner of the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) in January with Zulu Alpha, trainer Mike Maker will find out whether he has a candidate or two to defend his title next month when he sends out Somelikeithotbrown and Tide of the Sea in Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park.

The Fort Lauderdale for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles on the grass is the hometown prep for the 1 3 /16-mile Pegasus Turf, among seven graded-stakes worth $4.8 million in purses on Saturday, Jan. 23 led by the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) for 4-year-olds and up on dirt.

Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable’s Somelikeithotbrown is a two-time graded-stakes winner of $689,338 in purse earnings that drew the rail in a field of 10 for the Fort Lauderdale that includes eight stakes winners, six of them graded.

In his most recent effort, Somelikeithotbrown led all the way to beat fellow New York-breds in the Oct. 24 Mohawk at Belmont Park after finishing second to Fort Lauderdale rival Factor This in the Dinner Party (G2) at Pimlico Race Course. Both races came at 1 1/16 miles.

Somelikeithotbrown beat another Fort Lauderdale combatant, Halladay, to win the Bernard Baruch (G2) July 26 at Saratoga; Halladay came back to win the Fourstardave (G1) in his next start. Somelikeithotbrown was third by less than a length in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at 2 and won the John Battaglia and Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) to open his 3-year-old season before being sidelined after a fourth in the Blue Grass (G2).

“He’s a very attractive horse. He always showed talent as a 2-year-old. He followed it up with a great Breeders’ Cup run,” Maker said. “He got a minor injury in the Blue Grass and we had to stop on him but he came back this year and had a heck of a year.

“He continues to do well,” he added. “Hopefully, if he can run his race on Saturday, we can move on to the Pegasus.”

Tyler Gaffalione, who won last year’s Pegasus Turf for Maker, has the call on the typically front-running Somelikeithotbrown.

“That’s his running style, and we’re going to live and die by it,” Maker said.

Three Diamonds Farm’s Tide of the Sea will be making his stakes debut in his ninth overall start and fifth since joining Maker’s string after being purchased for $80,000 at Keeneland’s November 2019 breeding stock sale.

“He’s a late-maturing horse,” Maker said. “They purchased him out of the sale and he’s had a good year. I think he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the marathon division this year.”

Tide of the Sea takes a two-race win streak into the Fort Lauderdale, going 1 5/16 miles Sept. 12 at Kentucky Downs and 1 ½ miles Oct. 7 at Keeneland. Joe Bravo rides from Post 7.

“I’d prefer to go a bit longer but we don’t have that opportunity now so we figured we’d give him a shot going the mile and an eighth,” Maker said. “He’s on top of his game right now so I think he deserves a chance. He’s another one to get a good read on if we move on to the Pegasus or the McKnight.”

The $150,000 W.L. McKnight (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on the turf is part of the Pegasus day undercard.

Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha upset the 2020 Pegasus Turf at odds of nearly 12-1, then went on to win the Mac Diarmida (G2) and run second by a neck to stablemate Bemma’s Boy in the Pan American (G2) during the 2019-2020 Championship Meet. He was forced to miss the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) with slight swelling in his left front leg.

“He’s doing fine. He’s on the farm,” Maker said. “Hopefully here in the next two or three weeks we’ll see if we get to bring him back in or not.”

Calumet Farm’s homebred Grade 2 winner Channel Cat, closing in on $1 million in career earnings, will launch his comeback off a nine-month break between starts in Saturday’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2).

The 5-year-old son of turf champion English Channel came within a length of winning last year’s Fort Lauderdale, beaten a neck for second by Admission Office. After running a troubled 10th in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), Channel Cat was fourth by 1 ½ lengths in the Pan American (G2) March 28, his most recent race.

Channel Cat will be making his first start for Calumet’s private trainer, Jack Sisterson, after winning five of 22 races and $948,592 in purse earnings for Todd Pletcher. Channel Cat will go up against a pair of Pletcher trainees, Grade 1 winner Halladay and multiple stakes winner Largent, in the Fort Lauderdale.

“No real major issues, just a little let down. With Calumet in Lexington and me being stabled at Keeneland, we’ve got paddocks to turn them out and things. It wasn’t anything else,” Sisterson said. “Todd did a great job with him and they just wanted to keep in that routine of turning him out in the paddocks and things like that. He’s done well since we shipped him down here and we look forward to seeing him run on Saturday.”

Corey Lanerie has the assignment from Post 5 of 10 in the Fort Lauderdale. A three-time stakes winner including the 2018 Bald Eagle Derby at Laurel Park and 2019 Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga, Channel Cat has breezed twice over the turf at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

“I’ve had him for a couple of months now and he’s just a typical English Channel. He’s very workmanlike on the dirt, but when you put him on the grass he puts his best footsteps forward,” Sisterson said. “We don’t [typically] win off a layoff but we’ll expect him to improve a lot off the Fort Lauderdale and fingers crossed we can regain some of the form he had when Todd did so well with him. It might be hard to regain some of that, but he’s doing well at the moment.”

A return trip to the Pegasus Turf would be in store, Sisterson said, should Channel Cat run well. Instilled Regard, last year’s Fort Lauderdale winner, finished third in the 2020 Pegasus Turf.

“Absolutely, that’s the goal,” Sisterson said. “Sometimes they slow down with age so we’ll see if that’s the case with him. Training-wise he doesn’t show that he has, but you don’t know until you bring them over there in the afternoon. That’s the main thing.”

The post Ft. Lauderdale: Maker Hoping Pair Earn Chance At Pegasus Turf, Channel Cat Returns From Layoff appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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