By Emily Shields
Frankel son Gidu (Ire) will attempt to overthrow strong choice A Thread of Blue in the $100,000 Tropical Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The one-mile turf contest has a field of 10, with Gidu looking to win his first stakes race since May, 2018.
Gidu was born in Ireland but started his career in the United States with trainer Todd Pletcher. He broke his maiden over this turf course sprinting in 2017, then was placed over this trip in graded company before winning a pair of stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and Belmont Park. He has only won once since, in an allowance race at Belmont in June. Gidu, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, regularly faces top competition such as when he ran in the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga and finished fourth in the Belmont Turf Sprint in October.
A Thread of Blue hasn’t raced since October, but he is unbeaten on this turf course and was a major winner last year for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Luis Saez will ride the son of Hard Spun, a $430,000 purchase for Leonard C Green who has won five of 12 starts and earned over $1 million. A Thread of Blue was victorious in the Saratoga Derby Invitational in August.
Exulting will break alongside. One of two entrants for trainer Mike Maker, the gelded son of Tapit is coming off a fifth-place effort in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) here in December, where he was beaten just two and a quarter lengths. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride for the first time.
The other Maker entry is Empire of War, who breaks from the rail. The son of Declaration of War gets Javier Castellano for the first time, and should have more of a foundation under him after a start over a mile at the Fair Grounds last out December 28. That was his first start in six months.
Maraud used to be a stablemate of Gidu’s, but he was claimed away from trainer Todd Pletcher last year. Now he runs for Joseph Orseno, who conditioned him to be third in the Red Bank (G3) at Monmouth Park in September. He hasn’t run since, but is two for three over this turf course.
Trainer Saffie Jospeh, Jr. and jockey Tyler Gaffalione had a huge Saturday a week ago, each winning three stakes races. They are back in this with Tusk, another gelded son of Tapit, who was a $32,000 claiming winner at Belmont in October and was third in the Claiming Crown Emerald here in December. He has never been better than third on this course, but improved throughout 2019.
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