Big Names Back for 2018 in The Ft. Lauderdale Stakes

The Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (Grade 2)- $200.000 Purse
GP- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Turf
January 13, 2018


The 11th running of the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes has two storylines. First, and most meaningful is the return of a few greats to the track for the new season. Seven-year old Sir Tom and six-year old Desolation Island are hoping to make this year just as good as prior years, but several worthy competitors are set on stealing the spotlight. Secondly, can J R Leparoux win the race for the fourth straight year? Wolfs Den certainly hopes so. The starting gate is full, so why not take a look through the field at this time!

#1- A Crazed Frenzy (Eastern Equine, ridden by J L Ortiz)- Eastern Equine claimed this one for $40.000 in the middle of November, and immediately thrust him into the graded level. He had showed potential and appeared in ungraded events at times in his early days, but this move was a big vote of confidence. A Crazed Frenzy ran a career-high 102 SRF in his 3rd place run at the Grade 3 Tropical Turf, so he’ll make another jump here. Not the biggest name in the field, but if his odds get anywhere near that 39/1 he had in his last start, definitely take a shot.

#2- Danke Schon (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J Lezcano)- After finally breaking his maiden in his last start, his seventh, Danke Schon makes a quick jump into graded competition. He’s always been in the mix, and seemed to like finishing second for a while. Speed figures point to him needing to pick it up a notch to beat some of those he faces here. He could hang around, but this seems a bit too tough, right now.

#3- Solow (LionKing Stables, ridden by L Contreras)- A strong summer for Blushing Meadows led to a BC Turf run for Smokey Stover, and now he changes his silks again to the LionKing colors for his four year old season. This will be their first race together, and I am actually a little unsure what I think about him. I am not really impressed with how he was dropped down after the BC Turf race, and his win while carrying 10 less pounds then he carries here. But the trainer change may suit him. We’ll see.

#4- Magi (Nakamura Stables, ridden by L Saez)- The second of two entries for the trainer, and certainly the more experienced as he begins his seven year old season. He has ten victories to his credit, including one small ungraded triumph, and nearly took his first graded event in his last start, the Seabiscuit Handicap. Speed figures are trending the right direction, and he should be considered here.

#5- Limato (Chili King Stables, ridden by C Landeros)- Picked up his first win for Chili King in his last start after having been purchased for a solid $250.000 in July from Blushing Meadows. That was in the $150.000 Ponti at AQU, a race with similar conditions. I’m not sure how consistent he is, and would really like to see him follow that up with a big race here. Capable of winning, but I am looking elsewhere.

#6- Desolation Island (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- One of top active horses in the game right now, Desolation Island is set to go in 2018, and hopefully the changing of the calendar page changes his run of form back in the positive direction. His last three starts have not been Desolation Island-like, and while they are against the best of his class, including the BC Mile, you expect Desolation Island to be a top threat in any race. Important race for him, it’s not a must win, but it’s a must do-well.

#7- Sir Laffalot (Tiratzo, ridden by N Juarez)- Has won four of his last eight races, but other then a $65.000 ungraded stake around the time the KYD was run last spring, none of those wins have been against impressive fields. He makes his graded stake debut here and there is no denying that he has earned this shot. Perhaps the field came up a little deeper then the trainer was hoping for, but a horse on an upward trend must be considered this time of year.

#8- Nineties Baller (John Henry, ridden by J Rosario)- This won’t be the first time that Nineties Baller has run at this level, as there are many attempts earlier in his career where he was simply a non-factor. Something has to have changed since then in order for him to contend here, and perhaps it is that he is on the grass now, unlike those prior races early last year and even before. Did run second at the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf two months ago, but this race is much stronger.

#9-One Direction (Estero Farms, ridden by L H Colon)- Another consistent runner, with four wins in nine starts, and six times being a part of the exacta. His direction has mostly been north of the border, running mainly at WO, and picking up a win in the $100.000 Toronto Cup, which he followed up well with a good showing in the Grade 1 WO Mile. Hopefully he likes the warmer weather down south.

#10- Sir Tom (Brave, ridden by E J Zayas)- Truly one of the greats right here. There is not much to be said about Sir Tom that has not been said already, and it is exciting to see him be back in what his now his seven-year old season. Like rival Desolation Island, though, he could use the new year to be a return to form. He had been going well into the WO Mile, but disappointed there, and its worth noting that he was two lengths behind One Direction in that race. Then, the BC Mile saw him finish right behind Desolation Island, but they were 7th and 8th. Hopefully, he can have a bit of a resurgence here.

#11- The Land (Wolf Ridge Stables, ridden by E J Wilson)- The outside two post positions were left to the wolves. The Land is a bit of an underrated horse, giving his level of success with $668.000+ in career earnings, thanks largely in part to a great summer racing season, highlighted by the Grade 2 Baruch. That helped get him into the BC Turf, but he was a non-factor in the race. Won an open allowance sprint on soft turf last month to shake that off, but we’ll see how he really bounces back in this one.

#12- Expressly (Wolfs Den, ridden by J R Leparoux)- The story here is more the jockey then the horse as J R Leparoux looks to win the Ft. Lauderdale for the fourth consecutive season. Jockey accolades in this game are always tough to get excited about though, as they are about as exciting as drawing post 12 out of 12. Despite that, Expressly looks to win his 6th race in this eighth career start as he jumps into graded company for the first time. He comes off a win in the $75.000 Tropical Park Derby here, with Leparoux aboard, just two weeks ago.

Prediction: 6-5-10-1

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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