(Jesus’ Team / Coady Photography)

From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:

On the morning after his hard-fought victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel, Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Jesus’ Team was very much on course for a planned start in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 23.

“Jesus came out of the race good and happy,” trainer Jose D’Angelo said.

Jesus’ Team spent Sunday morning winding down in a round pen at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach, after grinding out a victory by three-quarters of a length in the 1 1/8-mile headliner of Saturday’s 22nd Claiming Crown, a nine-race event that pays tribute to the claiming horses that provide the backbone of the daily racing programs at racetracks throughout the country.

“I’ll give him a week in the round pen before preparing for the Pegasus World Cup,” said D’Angelo. “In between the hard races the last five months, I think the round pen has been very good for him. It’s good for him mentally and physically,”

Jesus’ Team, a 3-year-old son of Tapiture, became Claiming Crown-eligible when he started his career in the claiming ranks but has developed into a multiple Grade 1 stakes-placed performer, having finished third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in his two starts prior to the Jewel to earn the 2-5 favorite’s role Saturday. The stretch-running colt worked hard to earn the victory over loose-on-the-lead pacesetting Storm Runner, who did his best to fight off the favorite. Jockey Luis Saez, who rode six winners Saturday, opted to keep Jesus’ Team closer to the early pace than usual to closely monitor the dangerous Storm Runner.

“It was a hard race. He had only one work before the race. I chose only one work to keep him happy and healthy. I had confidence in him,” D’Angelo said. “In his last two races, he ran back to front – only one move. [Saturday] he made two runs, like he did in the Jim Dandy. He ran close to the front early. That’s not good for him.”

D’Angelo said he expects the Jewel to set up Jesus’ Team perfectly for the Pegasus.

Math Wizard Works for Possible Harlan’s Holiday Start

Claimer-turned-Grade 1 winner Math Wizard, unraced since finishing fifth in the Sept. 5 Woodward (G1) at Saratoga, breezed five furlongs Sunday for a possible start in the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G2) Dec. 12.

The 4-year-old Algorithms colt, winless with one second in five starts this year, was timed in 1:02.47 over a fast Gulfstream Park main track, ninth-fastest of 15 horses. It was his fourth breeze, all at Gulfstream, since returning to the work tab Nov. 1.

“He went well. I got him in 1:01 and four,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “That was it. We just wanted a nice, long, steady work, not too quick, so it was perfect. We’ll see how he is in the morning. There’s a possibility that he runs in the Harlan’s Holiday.”

The 1 1/16-mile Harlan’s Holiday for 3-year-olds and up is one of five stakes, four graded, worth $575,000 in purses on the Dec. 12 program at Gulfstream, topped by the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2), a prep for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) Jan. 23.

John Fanelli, Khalid Mishref, Cash is King, LC Racing, Collarmele Vitelli Stables, Ionnis Zoumas and Bassett Stables’ Math Wizard ran second in the Monmouth Cup (G3) July 18 but was given some time off after fifth-place efforts in the Charles Town Classic (G2) and Woodward.

Math Wizard won three of 10 starts and more than $1 million in purse earnings in 2019, running second in the Ohio Derby (G3) and third in the Indiana Derby (G3) before his breakthrough triumph in the Pennsylvania Derby – Joseph’s first career Grade 1 victory.

Math Wizard bypassed Saturday’s $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel, won by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) runner-up and Preakness (G1) show finisher Jesus’ Team.

“We gave him a little break after the Woodward and he took a little longer to come around than we wanted. Initially we were pointing to the Claiming Crown,” Joseph said. “It just seemed like we didn’t get him fit enough and we had an extra week to the Harlan’s Holiday. That looks like the plan right now. It’s not definite yet, but it’s in play.”

Joseph earned his first Claiming Crown victory with 50-1 long shot High Noon Rider in the $95,000 Emerald, also finishing second in the $95,000 Tiara with Sugar Fix and $85,000 Rapid Transit with Town Classic, and third with Combination in the $75,000 Express.

“Everybody seemed to bounce out good so far. We had a tough beat with Town Classic, but for the most part every horse basically ran their race,” Joseph said. “We had a couple seconds and thirds, but everybody ran their races. [Winning] was the icing on the cake. That was the best.”

(Imprimis / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Imprimis Returns to Work Tab Sunday at Gulfstream

Breeze Easy LLC’s two-time graded-stakes winner Imprimis, exiting a hard-luck trip in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), returned to the work tab with a three-furlong move over Gulfstream Park’s inner turf course Sunday.

Imprimis covered the distance in 36.06 seconds for trainer Joe Orseno. The 5-year-old gelding was within striking distance in the stretch of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint only to check sharply after being moved inside by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and lost all chance, finishing 13th.

“It was just a tune-up. We’re going to scope him and we’re going to look at him and see if we need to evaluate anything, so that’s why I wanted to get this into him,” Orseno said. “I was real happy with him. I got 36 [seconds], the clockers just sent me 36-and-1 and out in 48, so it was excellent.”

A stakes winner in each of his three seasons of racing, starting with the 2018 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico Race Course, Imprimis won the Shakertown (G2) in 2019 and the Turf Sprint (G2) Sept. 12 at Kentucky Downs as his prep for the Breeders’ Cup.

Imprimis is undefeated in four starts at Gulfstream, including the 2019 Silks Run, his last time over the track. Orseno is looking at the $75,000 Janus on New Year’s Day and the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Feb. 13, both for 4-year-olds up sprinting five furlongs on the grass.

“We’re talking about it. February, for sure, and then his races will be spaced out two months apart,” Orseno said. “We were thinking about Saudi Arabia for about a minute and a half and then decided we didn’t want to do that to him at the risk of knocking him out for the rest of the year.

“He doesn’t need to do that. If I keep him on that every two months, his next race will be Keeneland and then Belmont and then Saratoga and it’s spread out pretty good,” he added. “At least we have a plan. Let’s hope he cooperates.”