Focus Group Tries to Defend Pan American Title
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Focus Group will need to return to his best if he is to have a chance in the $200,000 Kitten’s Joy Pan American Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on March 28.
The six-year-old son of race sponsor Kitten’s Joy, who races for West Point Thoroughbreds, has not won since taking this 1 ½-mile turf race in 2019. He started in three Grade 1 races since then, with his best effort being a third-place in the Northern Dancer at Woodbine. Focus Group has since moved from the barn of Chad Brown to Christophe Clement, and will have Luis Saez aboard for the first time.
Drawn alongside is the streaking Zulu Alpha. The son of Street Cry (Ire) won the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) here in January, then added the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) on February 29. Mike Maker trains the seven-year-old gelding for Michael M Hui. Zulu Alpha, who will have Tyler Gaffalione back aboard, has earned over $2 million with four wins in five starts on the Gulfstream turf course.
Although a longer shot on the board, Galleon Mast has made 22 starts over the course and has finished in the top three a whopping 20 times. David Fawkes trains the son of Mizzen Mast, who will have Joe Bravo aboard. He was third in the Sunshine Millions Turf last out here on January 18, and before that he won a stakes race across town at Gulfstream Park West.
Spooky Channel was fifth in the Mac Diarmida, but before that won the W L McKnight (G3) here over this trip. Julien Leparoux will be back aboard the Brian Lynch trainee, a five-year-old son of English Channel. He was previously a runner in Arizona, winning six races at Turf Paradise before changing barns.
Channel Cat will break from the rail. Todd Pletcher trains the English Channel horse, who is just short of $1 million in earnings. He won the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Saratoga at Saratoga in July, then ran third in the Sword Dancer (G1) against tough company, but has disappointed since. He was third, beaten less than a length in the Ft Lauderdale (G2) here in December, then ran tenth of 12 in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) behind Zulu Alpha. Joel Rosario will ride.
Pletcher’s second horse is Current, a Grade 3 winner at Keeneland in 2018 who has not won since. He has performed well over this course, however, finishing third in stakes company here a year ago.
Former claimer Go Poke the Bear also hails from the Maker barn. He won an allowance here on New Year’s Day, and has two wins in three starts over the track. Although he hasn’t run since January 1, Go Poke the Bear has had 10 consecutive workouts for this.
Bemma’s Boy, Prince of Arabia, and Manicomio round out the field. Watch and wager on the entire Gulfstream card live with TVG.
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