Gulfstream Park Scenic

Gulfstream Park (Coglianese Photos)

As part of an action-packed afternoon of racing on December 8th, Gulfstream Park will host not only the Clasico Internacional del Caribe series (showcasing some of the best horses from Latin America and the Caribbean), but also a half-dozen stakes races for two-year-olds.

Those juvenile races comprise the first six events on the massive card, which kicks off at 11:50 p.m. Eastern. And since you never know where the next Kentucky Derby (gr. I) or Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner might come from, let’s take a quick look through these juvenile stakes races and check out some of the names to keep an eye on….

Race 1: House Party Stakes

As a daughter of Scat Daddy out of an Empire Maker mare, #1 Iva is regally-bred and has won her first two starts for trainer Wesley Ward, stamping her among the favorites for this six-furlong sprint. But her two victories came against easier competition at Indiana Grand and Belterra Park, and Iva could face a stiff challenge from #8 Paula Andrea, a powerful 10 ¾-length maiden winner sprinting six furlongs at Gulfstream Park West.

Race 2: Hut Hut Stakes

Fillies suited to longer distances will get a chance to negotiate a mile in the Hut Hut Stakes, in which #4 Bella Ciao boasts arguably the single best form line, a respectable fourth-place finish in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. But Bella Ciao’s lone start at a mile or longer produced a disappointing tenth-place finish in the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I), so if you want to take a shot against her going a route of ground, alternatives include #3 Sweet Diane (a 13 ¾-length maiden winner going a mile at Penn National) and #1 Bimini (easy winner of a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park West).

Race 3: Buffalo Man Stakes

#6 Jackson is already a stakes winner, having overcome a slow start to win the Juvenile Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park West last month, and his previous effort was a runner-up effort behind future Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Bulletin in the Hollywood Beach Stakes, so Jackson has to be considered the horse to beat in this six-furlong sprint. His main competition could come from #7 Zenden, a fast maiden winner over this track and distance in September, and #1 Combination, a 5 ¾-length debut winner going five furlongs at Gulfstream Park West.

Race 4: Smooth Air Stakes

#2 Maddy’s Last Dance stretches out to a mile after falling just a neck short of catching Jackson in the Juvenile Sprint Stakes, his fourth exacta finish from four starts. But favoritism in this competitive heat will likely fall to #5 Garter and Tie, winner of the Florida Sire Affirmed Stakes at Gulfstream Park and runner-up in two other stakes races over this track. #7 Souper Jackpot will also draw support after breaking his maiden in determined fashion at Churchill Downs for trainer Mark Casse.

Race 5: Pulpit Stakes

This one-mile turf race has attracted a stacked field full of experienced stakes competitors, including #2 Henley’s Joy, winner of the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes and a starter in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I). He figures to start as the slight favorite, but the Summer Stakes (gr. I) third-place finisher #3 Nashtrick also boasts solid form lines and #9 Louder Than Bombs won the Armed Forces Stakes over this course and distance in September, so this race won’t be a waltz for Henley’s Joy.

Race 6: Wait a While Stakes

In perhaps the most wide-open and competitive of the six juvenile stakes races, trainer Chad Brown will send out the former European runner #1 Queen Medb and the Belmont Park maiden winner #7 Multi Strategy, two fillies who comprise a strong 1-2 punch. Todd Pletcher will join the fray with the Silver Memories Stakes fourth-place finisher #9 Red Hot Dame, his lone starter on the card, while #3 Red Rounder (2-for-2 at Indiana Grand for trainer Mike Maker) and #4 A Bit Special (three-length winner of the Our Dear Peggy Stakes over this course and distance) add further depth to the field.