Grupo 7C Racing Stables’ Jesus’ Team, who finished second in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland in his most recent start, is scheduled to make his next start in the $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream Park Dec. 5.
Trainer Jose D’Angelo will use the Claiming Crown headliner, one of nine stakes for horses that have started for a claiming price at least once in 2019-2020, as a prep for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 23.
“I prefer a race before the Pegasus World Cup. I don’t want to work him up to that race from the Breeders’ Cup,” D’Angelo said. “He needs a race in December.
The 1 1/8-mile Jewel is restricted to 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $35,000. Jesus’ Team broke his maiden in a $32,000 maiden claiming race at Gulfstream March 18 in his fifth career start. He came right back to score a seven-length victory for a $25,000 claiming tag May 8 before moving on to prove himself against graded-stakes company in his next six starts.
In his two most recent starts, Jesus’ Team finished a distant third behind Swiss Skydiver and Authentic in the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico and second in the Dirt Mile, in which he closed from off the pace to finish 3 ½ lengths behind runaway winner Knicks Go.
“After he won the race for $25,000, I saw a big change in him,” D’Angelo said. “With every race, he gets better and better.”
D’Angelo’s stable is based at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County where Jesus’ Team will prepare for Gulfstream’s 2020-2021 Championship Meet that will get under way Dec. 2 and run through March 28.
“After the Breeders’ Cup, we sent him to Ocala for rest in the paddock and round pen for a week. He’s happy and healthy,” D’Angelo said “Now, he’s at Palm Meadows and will start training again.”
Jesus’ Team is among the most prominent names on the list of 25 nominees, which includes Grade 1 stakes winner Math Wizard, and Grade 3 winner Harper’s First Ride. Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Math Wizard, who captured the 2019 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx, has breezed twice at Gulfstream since finishing fifth in the Sept. 5 Woodward (G1) at Saratoga. Harper’s First Ride, a Claudio Gonzalez-trained Maryland-based gelding captured the Pimlico Special (G3) Oct. 2. Jack Sisterson-trained Dack Janiel’s, who finished third in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2) at Keeneland Nov. 6, and defending Jewel champion Leitone are also nominated.
The nine Claiming Crown stakes attracted a total of 271 nominations, including 52 nominations for the $95,000 Emerald, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or lower. Trainer Michael Maker, the all-time leading trainer in Claiming Crown history, has nominated 10 horses to the Emerald, including defending champion Muggsamatic.
The $95,000 Tiara, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares that started for a claiming price of $25,000 or lower, drew 27 nominations, including Herman Wilensky-trained Drop a Hint, who shipped from Gulfstream to Belmont for a third-pace finish in the Sands Point (G2) last time out.
The $90,000 Distaff Dash, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mare that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or lower, drew 34 nominations, including Maker-trained Jakarta, who captured the Powder Break during the Championship Meet at Gulfstream before finishing third in the Franklin County (G3) at Keeneland last time out.
The $90,000 Canterbury, a five-furlong turf dash for 3-year-olds and up who have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or lower, also drew 34 nominations, including Tom Albertrani-trained Fiya, who has won four straight races, including the Maryland Million Turf Sprint at Laurel last time out.
The Claiming Crown program will also include the $85,000 Rapid Transit, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old and up that started for a claiming price of $16,000 or lower; the $80,000 Glass Slipper, a mile race for fillies and mares that started for a claiming price of $12,500 or lower; the $75,000 Express, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up that started for a claiming price of $8,000 or lower; and the $75,000 Iron Horse, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that started for a claiming price of $8,000 or lower.
(from Gulfstream Park news release)