By: David Grening DRF
Trainer Bill Mott hopes talent trumps experience when he sends out debut winner Annex in the $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday.
Annex, a son of Constitution, was away slowly in a one-mile maiden race on turf Jan. 16 at Gulfstream. He saved all the ground down the backside, and then stormed home a one-length winner while five wide under Junior Alvarado.
“The way he did it, he probably surpassed expectations,” Mott said. “He kind of got left a little at the gate. After getting away from the gate poorly, he ran professionally.”
Mott said he passed an allowance race to point to this race, which is a sixteenth of a mile farther than his debut win.
“By the way he ran the other day, it’s not going to hurt him,” Mott said.
Scarlett Sky, a son of Sky Mesa trained by Shug McGaughey, is coming off a dominant five-length victory in a Jan. 14 allowance race here in his fifth start. The only time he finished worse than second was in last November’s Central Park Stakes, a race run over softer ground at Aqueduct.
He shows a solid work tab over the Payson Park turf since his allowance score.
Chess’s Dream has two wins and two seconds over Gulfstream Park’s turf course and pulled an 8-1 upset with a rail-skimming ride by Tyler Gaffalione in the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy last month. He breaks from the outside in this eight-horse field Saturday.
“I loved his last race,” trainer Mike Maker said. “Granted, it was a perfect trip, but, to me, he continues to improve.”
Fighting Force and Cave Hill, second and third behind Kentucky Pharoah in the Dania Beach Stakes, are logical in the Palm Beach. Trainer Todd Pletcher said Fighting Force ran well despite being “a little closer to the pace than he wants to be.”
Trainer Brendan Walsh believes the added distance of Saturday’s race will only help Cave Hill, a son of Frosted.
“He’s a big, scopey horse. I can’t see anything but improvement from him as we go along,” Walsh said. “If he ran a little better off the Dania Beach, it should put him in a good spot for Saturday.”