$100,000 Emirates Airlines Appleton Stakes (Grade III).
Four year olds and upwards, to be run on the Gulfstream Park turf at one mile.
1. Little Mike (four year old gelding, high weight of 123 pounds). Jockey Joe Bravo will get the mount once again on this extremely fast and talented horse, trained by Dale Romans. Little Mike has a career mark of 12 starts, with 6 wins, 2 seconds, 0 thirds, with earning's of $305,970. Morning line of 5/2 odds(clearly the favorite!)
2. Cherokee Artist (six year old, will be carrying 119 pounds). Jockey Ramon Dominguez has the mount for Graham Motion's experienced colt. Career mark of 26 starts, 6 wins, 6 seconds, 2 thirds, with earning's of $623,910. Morning line of 8/1 odds.
3. NICANOR (can't believe he is five years old, where does the time go?). Nicanor will be carrying 119 pounds today with Julien Leparoux getting the mount for his third time on Nicanor. This will be just the 15 start for Nicanor, he will be going for his 5th victory, with two seconds and two thirds. If he wins today, in what should be a very fast race, it would put Nicanor over $200,000 in career earning's, having $144,490 up to this point. Morning line of 12/1 odds (IMHO, crazy odds, I would have had him about 8/1 odds in this field).
4. Sayif (Scratched)
5. Commandeered (four year old, carrying 117 pounds). John Velazquez has the mount for this lightly raced six year old horse who is trained by Todd Pletcher. Has a career mark very similiar to Nicanor's, with 3 wins, 2 seconds, 2 thirds, with earning's of $133,263. Morning line of 3/1 odds (very surprised odds are so low, even though he won his last race in impressive fashion at Gulfstream on Feb. 9).
6. Rivera Cocktail (five year old, carrying 119 pounds). Switched trainers after his last race, he is now trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Garrett Gomez will get the mount today. Rivera Cocktail will be making his fourth start of the year, last racing at Santa Anita in the 1 1/2 mile San Luis Obispo Stakes (Grade II) where he tired and finished seventh in the field of nine (race was run on the dirt after being taken off the turf). Career mark of 18 starts, 4 wins, 3 seconds, 2 thirds, with earning's of $178,107. Morning line of 6/1 odds.
7. Successful Mission (five year old gelding, carrying 119 pounds). Won last time out in an Allowance race on the Gulfstream turf on March 13. He pulled away from Cherokee Artist in a very exciting stretch run to win by just over one length. Elvis is in the race, Elvis Trujillo will get the mount again on this Edward Plesa, Jr. trained colt who has career earning's of $208,751 with 6 wins and 2 thirds. Morning line of 5/1 odds.
8. Asphalt (four year old colt, carrying 119 pounds). Asphalt will be ridden by Javier Castellano and is trained by Eddie Kenneally. He has a career mark of 15 starts, 3 wins, 2 seconds, 4 thirds, with earning's of $190,694. Last race out, Asphalt finished a very close fourth in a blanket finish on the Gulfstream turf back on Feb. 26 in an Allowance race. The next horse in the field, a five year old named "Mikoski", who is trained by Michael Matz, won the race! Morning line of 10/1 odds.
9. MIKOSHI (five year old, carrying 119 pounds). Trained by Michael Matz and will be ridden by Jose Lezcano today, as previously mentioned, Mikoshi is coming off a victory after nearly a four month lay-off! Mikoshi has a career mark of 4 wins, 6 seconds, 4 thirds, with earning's of $208,633. LOVE this horse, and I expect a huge effort today. Morning line of 8/1 odds.
What can I say? At this point in his career, Nicanor will continue to face very talented fields, today is no different. On paper, this race should be very quick, with at least four who like to have the lead from the get go. Something will have to give, who will get the lead? Little Mike will most likely go straight to the lead from the rail. I will say this, if Little Mike runs like he did last time out, he will win this race hands down! I am going to go on the record and say he will bounce and not perform like he did last time out, I know, wishful thinking on my behalf!
I will say this until I am blue in the face, Nicanor has to have the lead going into the turn, it is what HE wants and if he doesn't get the lead, he will not win this race. Julien needs to go against conventional wisdom and do this, if it doesn't work, then Nicanor raced his race and was beaten by more talented horses, enough said. Nicanor is a different horse in the lead, he is happy and comfortable, and it is what he wants, please Julien, listen to him! Get the lead, slow him down to fractions around 24 seconds for each quarter, and Nicanor will try his best to hold the field off in the stretch. If Nicanor is off the pace, he gets frustrated and will fight Julien, which will leave Nicanor not having enough in the stretch run. I honestly believe Nicanor is a stakes winning horse, he just needs that first stakes victory to boost his confidence and show whoever rides him in the future, "Please listen to me and let me get the lead". Let's all hope Julien listen's today!
So, if the race plays out like I hope, Nicanor will win his first Stakes race (only if he has the lead!), we shall see.
I will go with a Michael Matz exacta, Nicanor and Mikoshi to finish first and second, with Asphalt hitting the board in third place.
If Little Mike runs his race and doesn't bounce, the rest of the field are running for second place.
Above all, a safe race for all...
I HOPE Julien watched this replay numerous times! Here is Nicanor's most impressive victory to date (IMHO).
Nicanor finished 7th in the field of eight.
He broke very sharp from the gate, was right next to Little Mike going into the first turn. IMHO, Nicanor COULD have passed Little Mike, but, once again Julien decided against it.
Nicanor then stayed in second for most of the first turn, within a length of Little Mike. Then, coming out of the turn, Julien seemed to have a hold on Nicanor, then two horses passed Nicanor going into the backstretch. Nicanor was now in fourth on the rail trying to save some ground, I guess? Two more horses passed Nicanor and Julien going into the far turn, now Nicanor was in 6th place.
Turning for home, Nicanor was last and showed some heart by passing one to finish seventh.
I have the utmost respect for Julien, but, he is a terrible fit for Nicanor, IMHO.
Nicanor is a different caliber horse if he doesn't have the lead, why can't these jockey's see this? To me, it is quite obvious, and these jockey's don't have the guts to take him to the lead and see what happens. It really is a shame, I know Nicanor is a better horse then this result.
A safe race for all, and congrats to Mikoshi for hitting the board and finishing fourth.
Nicanor will be back, I just wish Nicanor's future jockey's will listen to him and let him take the lead, it is what he wants and needs to be able to compete with this class of horses, IMHO.