Appleton Stakes Preview: Horse-by-Horse Analysis of Saturday's Grade III Race @GP

Can Chad Brown be beaten in a turf race in North America? Well, of course... but it depends on what race... see if he can in the Florida Derby undercard turf race, the Grade III Appleton on Saturday.
Can Chad Brown be beaten in a turf race in North America? Well, of course... but it depends on what race... see if he can in the Florida Derby undercard turf race, the Grade III Appleton on Saturday.

1 Mile (Turf), Appleton Stakes, Purse $100k, 4+

The Grade III Appleton Stakes continues to be a must-see on the undercard at Gulfstream Park when Florida Derby Day comes around. Perhaps it is the rock-solid dependability of the older division or the fact that celebrated trainers always draw in for this contest… Whatever the case, there have been and will continue to be, some excellent routers whose names will be associated with this include… last year’s winner, Social Paranoia, All Included, War Correspondent, Za Approval, Little Mike, Kiss the Kid, and Silver Tree. Although this race has been renamed in honor of the Ramsey’s Kitten’s Joy, he never did win this race. Ironic…

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Gray’s Fable (Jky: J. Alvarado/Trn: R. Attfield):

For those of you that do not recognize the name of Roger Attfield, he is a HOF trainer, based in Canada, with major experience when it comes to conditioning. He has a Breeders’ Cup win under his belt, and countless other awards to his name (ever heard of Danish Dynaformer or With Approval?). Each year, he “winters” down in places like S. Florida before routing through for Keeneland’s spring Meet. The lesson is you shouldn’t sleep on his entries. Gray’s Fable #1 is an example of a turf router with solid experience at this distance. Granted, he is coming from off the bench, but that doesn’t mean he cannot have a hot hoof. I like the fact that last season at this time, he had some nice tries on the GP Turf Course. That can go a long way towards a victory, when you least expect it. At 8/1 on the M/L, I think this runner will drift into the double-digit range. Junior Alvarado, who is more than proficient gets the call.

Grade: B


#2 Perfect Speighty (Jky: C. Lanerie/Trn: R. Attfield):

The other entry by Attfield is Perfect Speighty #2, who is well-bred for the turf out of Speightstown. Unlike his stablemate, this horse has raced 2x over the grass course @GP. Those efforts were in OC75k events at 7½F and then stretched out to 1 1/8th. Neither resulted in a win, but still they were against steady company, 2 of which already came back for scores next out. I am frankly a little disappointed that this conditioner could not find a more accomplished lawn jockey to take this mount. Corey Lanerie is a fine jock, but not when it comes to the turf. That choice downgrades the opportunity at least by a letter grade.   

Grade: C+


#3 Frostmourne (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: E. Kenneally):

A few years back, good ole Frostmourne #3 used to spark the bettors by making them swoon. Back then, he was with Christophe Clement’s outfit, and he raced against some of the best “Graded” turf company that money could buy. When you are battling Money Multiplier, Heart to Heart, Bricks and Mortar, and Yoshida, then you are matched up against the best that 2017 and 2018 could offer. Most of those are now long retired, but not this famous grass participant. Now with Eddie Kenneally, he is out for his 2nd try of the year. In the first, the Tropical Turf (G3), he was around 3/1, but failed to score—finishing for the “Show.” His conditioner has clearly chosen to rest him for this event, and he should be the co-favorite along with Seismic Wave #8. Having Tyler Gaffalione aboard, makes this one dangerous in this spot, so if you are attempting to try and beat him, beware.

Grade: B+


#4 Ever Dangerous (Jky: E. Zayas/Trn: G. Weaver):

George Weaver is just another one of those Gulfstream Park trainers that flies under the radar. He is not as flashy as Pletcher, doesn’t have the turf success of Brown, nor does he run as many as Maker. Still, he has a nice stable, and it looks like Ever Dangerous #4 has the ability to rate well in a situation like this one. Based on his work last fall, you might want to conclude that shortening up to a mile might not be what he wants to do. I do not think it is an issue because frankly, I would rather him have firm turf. That might help him get home, as well as having an excellent positioned start. If he can move to a spot just off or 3-back, he should be in an excellent striking location to pounce down the lane. Ed Zayas can have his troubles with traffic, but here is hoping that doesn’t happen in this race.

Grade: A-


#5 Renaissance Frolic (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: S. Joseph):

Saffie Joseph is sending the fleet out on Saturday, and he is not afraid of anyone. Clearly, he thinks Renaissance Frolic #5 has what it takes to move from winning a Clm50k event @GP to jumping into this G3. That will not be simple, but if you have Javier Castellano with you, going into a battle sounds much more palatable. Even though the turf jock has not ridden this one, he should make quick work of the PPs, and discover what is in the hand he has been dealt. The offspring of Paynter don’t mishandle the turf, so that is another tick in the “pro” column. This runner has come a long way in a year since he raced in Joseph’s native country of Barbados. What a difference 365 days can make! Whether all of these points will lead to win is still up for debate, considering the class of this horse remains dubious, when compared to others.

Grade: B


#6 Little Menace (Jky: J. Ortiz/Trn: M. Maker):

Mike Maker is the “King” of several lands, but when it comes to “1st Starts w/Trn,” he can be a touch spotty. Still, this is the Maker Barn we are talking about, plus that is a tough stat. To top it off, he is putting an Into Mischief colt named Little Menace #6 on the turf for what looks like his inaugural voyage. That is not specious reasoning though, especially considering how versatile these types are when it comes to the grass. It just continues to amaze me how wrong most had it when it came to pigeonholing them as dirt sprinters, only. Despite all these plaudits I have been bandying about with, I do not think this runner can reasonably hit the board. Something just seems off. There is no question that running against Nashville, Yaupon, or Art Collector is good for the resume. However, I cannot back even a Maker horse that has never been on the grass in a Grade III event. No disrespect to him or jockey Jose Ortiz…  

Grade: C+


#7 Forever Mo (Jky: L. Reyes/Trn: T. Hills):

Speaking of sires that produce impressive grass winners… here is a horse, Forever Mo #7, out of Uncle Mo that has some GP experience on the stuff. The issue is that recently those were all Clm contests, and not terribly difficult. One of them even had Renaissance Frolic #5 in the race, and “Mo,” he “Showed.” Sorry, couldn’t resist… Tim Hills has a fine long sprinter or short router here, but this is a much deeper contest than he has ever seen. I am highly skeptical that Leo Reyes is going to be able to turn into Castellano, and spring the upset. Too tough… way too tough…  

Grade: C


#8 Seismic Wave (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: C. Brown):

Never… ever… ever… bet a 1st time gelding. That is a rule to live by because you just never know what their capability is going to be. This standard even applies to a Chad Brown entry, which does sound daunting to go against. Seismic Wave #8 was in the care of Bill Mott, but back in October he was transferred by Michael Dubb and Co. to Brown’s outfit. Now, coming off the bench after a progressive 2020 that saw him in major turf races at Belmont and Saratoga, his Payson works look strong. Still, I would stick to the “gelding rule,” not leaving anything to chance. I say that without reservation… even if Irad Ortiz and Chad Brown are involved. Stick to the code!

Grade: B+


Join us Saturday for all of our Gulfstream Park selections! Should be a great set of races for Florida Derby Day!