Photo: Lauren King/Gulfstream Park
John Oxley’s Dance Strike may lack the experience of his 13 rivals in the $75,000 Tropical Park Derby, but the 3-year-old son of Tapit will have no shortage of star potential when he takes to the Gulfstream Park turf course for the last of five turf stakes 11-race program.
Dance Strike is scheduled to make his stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds with a resume of just three races – but three very exciting races that include two eye-catching off-the-pace triumphs.
“I’ve been impressed with him. You’ve only seen the beginning, but he’s got to learn, as may Tapits do,” trainer Mark Casse said. “I find Tapits get better as they mature and run.”
Dance Strike was unraced as a 2-year-old and debuted at Gulfstream with a 1 ¼-length victory . , the Kentucky-bred colt lost a photo finish in his first start against winners before overcoming considerable early trouble to rally from 10th and last to draw off to a stunning two-length triumph at Gulfstream Park West .
“He did everything wrong last time. I don’t know how he won,” Casse said. “He’s not going to have that luxury [Saturday]. This is a tough race. He’s going to have to do things and do them right to have any chance, but he’s got a lot of raw talent.”
Dance Strike trained brilliantly as a 2-year-old but never made it to the starting gate for a freshman campaign
“When we had him as a 2-year-old his workmate and his partner all the time was Dream Dancing, who went on to win a Grade 1. He would train as good as she would,” Casse said. “We just had a constant foot issue with him, starting and stopping three or four times. That’s why he ended up going south [to Florida]. We’d send him to the track and then back home. Everything is based out of Ocala. We get them pretty close to running, then we decide where we want to send them. After a few attempts at sending him different places, we decided to keep him close to home.”
Dance Strike was bought at the 2015 Fasig Tipton Kentucky October sale for $410,000.
“He was the entire package. We liked his pedigree; we liked his conformation,” Casse said. “We’re always looking for stallion prospects down the road. When we find those, Mr. Oxley will step up. He fits those criteria, so that’s why he cost what he cost.”
Casse had the option to run Dance Strike against older horses in a two-other-than optional claiming allowance, but opted for the Tropical Park Derby.
“One thing I do try to do is to keep them in their age group as long as I can. This is the last chance to do that,” said Casse, who captured the 2014 Tropical Park Derby with Oxley’s Sky Flight. “Right now, I’m trying to get racing into him, because the more he runs the better he’s going to become. This is not an easy spot, but he’s learning.”
Emisael Jaramillo has the return mount.
Stuart Janney III’s Profiteer, a graded stakes-placed son of War Front trained by Shug McGaughey has been installed as a 7-2 morning-line favorite.
Profiteer, who has won three of eight starts, is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Twilight Derby (G2) at Santa Anita , when he set a pressured pace before weakening in the stretch.
“He probably wants to go farther if he wants to be up that close where he just gallops along,” McGaughey said. “Going a mile-and-a-sixteenth, we might try to easy him back a bit and make one quick run.”
Profiteer, who finished third in the Commonwealth Derby (G3) at Laurel prior to his West Coast trip, will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Chiefswood Stable’s Tiz a Slam, despite a seventh-place finish in the Commonwealth Derby, is one of the most accomplished entrants in the Tropical Park Derby. Prior to his Laurel outing, the Roger Attfield-trained son of Tiznow captured the Ontario Derby (G3) at Woodbine by 3 ¼ lengths. Rafael Hernandez is named to ride the multiple-stakes winner, who finished second in the Queen’s Plate.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Gorgeous Kitten will seek his first stakes win but has fared fairly well while competing in graded stakes in five of his last six races, including a back-to-back finishes in the Arlington Classic (G3) and American Derby (G3) at Arlington Park last summer. Jose Ortiz has the mount.
Jeremiah Englehart-trained Small Bear, Chad Brown-trained Funtastic and James Jerkens-trained Secretary At War, who finished 1-2-3, respectively, in the Gio Ponti Stakes at Aqueduct are all scheduled to reunite in the Tropical Park Derby.
Durocher, Somekindofmagician, Mr. Bariley, Mr. Cub, Delarna, General McGooby, and Without Remorse are also entered. Zitman is an also-eligible entrant.