Gulfstream Park

From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:

Matthew Schera’s Island Commish, returning to stakes company for the first time since last summer off back-to-back wins to end his juvenile campaign, kicked off the new year by becoming a graded-stakes winner in Saturday’s $100,000 Kitten’s Joy (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

The eighth running of the 7 ½-furlong Kitten’s Joy was its first since being promoted to graded status for 2020 and the second of five stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds worth $450,000 in purses on a Sophomore Showcase program anchored by the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man.

Island Commish ($14.60) sat a perfect trip under jockey Paco Lopez from their outside post, pressing 11-1 long shot Get Smokin through fractions of :24.41, :47.81 and 1:10.78 before taking over in mid-stretch and edging clear by a half-length. The winning time was 1:28.25 over a firm turf course.

All three of Island Commish’s wins during his streak have come at the 7 ½-furlong distance, though Saturday’s was his first at Gulfstream. He notched successive optional claiming scores by a combined eight lengths last fall at Gulfstream Park West, the most recent coming Nov. 20 in his first start since being purchased by Schera.

“He broke good I wanted to come from a little bit behind like we did at [Gulfstream Park West],” Lopez said. “He was second and relaxed really good. At the three-eighths [pole] I saw that the horse in front was going good, so I asked him a little bit and he gave me a good run.”

Get Smokin ran bravely on the lead and stayed up for second ahead of Summer to Remember, who staked the top two throughout. Laurel Futurity winner Irish Mias, favored at 2-1 in a field of eight, trailed early before making a belated bid for fourth.

King Theo, Mystic Lancelot, stakes-winning filly Yesterdayoncemore and Bless the Kitten completed the order of finish. Bless the Kitten is bred and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who also campaigned multi-millionaire homebred grass champion and six-time leading turf sire Kitten’s Joy.

“We thought he was coming up to the race in good form, as good as he can get,” winning trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “We didn’t know if he had the ability to win this kind of race, but we thought now was the time to try. Seven and a half [furlongs] is his distance so we thought to give him a shot. Matt Schera, who bought him, said go head and take a chance.”

Schera purchased Island Commish following his 2 ½-length win Oct. 17 at Gulfstream West, after making his first four starts for Shooting Star Thoroughbreds, managed by longtime trainer Mary Lightner. The Commissioner colt is one of three horses for Shooting Star in its first year as a syndicate; another, multiple stakes winner Chance It, was the program favorite for the Mucho Macho Man.

“We wanted to give him a chance today to see what kind of horse he was. He was sitting the trip and he was right there and I was like, ‘Please go by,’ because we had two seconds today,” Joseph said. “The Lightners, Shooting Star, picked this horse and they’re so good at picking horses. It’s good to get this one. We’re blessed and thankful for the opportunities. Paco gave him the perfect trip and he’s been high on this horse since he won, so kudos for him.”

$100,000 Kitten’s Joy (G3) Quotes

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. (Island Commish): “We wanted to give him a chance today to see what kind of horse he was. He was sitting the trip and he was right there and I was like, ‘Please go by’ because we had two seconds today. The Lightners, Shooting Star [Thoroughbreds], picked this horse and they’re so good at picking horses. It’s good to get this one. We’re blessed and thankful for the opportunities. Paco gave him the perfect trip and he’s been high on this horse since he won, so kudos for him.”

“We thought he was coming up to the race in good form, as good as he can get. We didn’t know if he had the ability to win this kind of race but we thought now was the time to try, 7 ½ [furlongs] is his distance so we thought to give him a shot. Matt Schera who bought him, he said go head and take a chance”

Paco Lopez (Island Commish): “He broke good. I wanted to come from a little bit behind like we did at [Gulfstream Park West}. He was second and relaxed really good. At the three-eighths [pole] I saw that the horse in front was going good, so I asked him a little bit and he gave me a good run.”