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Donn Handicap; Eleven In-Line For The Donn at Gulfstream Park

2014 (GI) Donn Handicap; Eleven In-Line For The Donn at Gulfstream Park: The 2014 Donn Handicap is held annually in late January/February at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida for horses four years old and up to be raced on the dirt at a distance of 1 1/8 miles vying for a purse of $500,000. Recently the race has become the premier prep race in North America for the Dubai World Cup. This year’s edition is to be raced Sunday, Feburary 9th, 2014. SEE UPDATED RESULTS

Donn Handicap 2014 Gulfstream Park

Graydar and jockey Edgar Prado (pictured above) won the 2013 Donn Handicap over 2014 Donn Handicap contender Bourbon Courage. The 2014 Donn handicap takes place on Sunday, February 9th with a 6:01 PM EST post time at Gulfstream Park.

The race is named after the Donn family, who for many years owned and operated Gulfstream racetrack.

Three horses have won the race twice and when it was inaugurated at a distance of a 1 1/2 miles, the only horse to ever win the race twice at that distance was One-Eyed-King who did it back-to-back in 1959 and 1960. At its present distance of 1 1/8 miles, Pistols and Roses won it back-to-back in 1993 and 1994 as did the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductee Cigar for the two ensuing years.

Three horses have won the Donn Handicap and went on to win either the Eclipse Award for American Horse of the Year or American Champion Older Male Horse that year: Saint Liam, Skip Away and Cigar. In addition, reigning Horse of the Year Invasor won the Donn in 2007 prior to taking the Dubai World Cup.

The speed record is held by Jumping Hill set in 1979 in 1:46.40 for trainer Horatio Luro and last years edition was won by Graydar for Todd Pletcher in 1:48.25.

The 2014 (GI) Donn Handicap is the 12th and last race of the day with a post-time of 6:01 pm EST .

Already well-known as a graded-stakes turf runner, the 4 year-old River Seven, with 4-1 morning line odds, most recently blew past Csaba in the 1 1/16 mile Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream park on December 22, 2013 where he posted a 4-length victory that was possibly a career-changing run. The son of Johannesburg/Sans Souci Island/Chester House has been based at Toronto’s Woodbine Race Course and has ran on the turf for most of his career. Connections shipped him south of the border to Churchill prior to his win in at Gulfstream where he wore down one of my fav’s Frac Daddy* near the finish to score a half-length victory over 11 rivals in the Commonwealth Turf (GIII) going 1 1/16 mile on the grass on November 16th, 2013. River Seven is coming off a 3-win-streak and seems to be digging the Gulfstream dirt where he recently posted a 5f breeze in 1:00.30, 10/55 and on January 20th, he breezed 5f in 1:00.67, 5/16. He will be steppin-it-up in class here and get’s Joe Rocco Jr. to ride again from post # 5.

*Frac Daddy’s sire is Scat Daddy who is also sired out of Johannesburg, River Sevens sire, which is just some fun pedigree info I dig.

Not much needs to be said about the Unbridled’s Song/Take Charge Lady/Dehere colt Will Take Charge, with 9-5 morning line odds, who ran his eyeballs out last year where he defeated a few other sophomores in a couple of $1,000,000 races in the Travers Stakes (GI) on August 24th, 2013 and on September 21st in the Pennsylvania Derby (GII) . After finishing a nostril behind Mucho Macho Man in the Breeder’s Cup Classic last year on November 2, 2013 at Santa Anita, Will Take Charge picked it up a notch to beat Game On Dude in the Clark Handicap (GI) on November 29th, 2013. He was given a little time off and has recently been training at Gulfstream Park where he breezed 5f in 49.80 on a sloppy track 7/77 on February 2nd. Prior he worked 6f handily from the gate in 1:14.80, 2/8. Will Take Charge exits gate #2 with L. Saez in the irons.

Coming in with 5-1 morning line odds, the Todd Pletcher trained son of War Pass/Run Up The Colors/A.P. Indy, Revolutionary, the star of last year’s (GIII) Withers Stakes, Louisiana Derby (GII) and third in the Kentucky Derby (GI), last out won an optional claiming race at 1 mile on the dirt at Gulfstream on January 11th, 2014. Prior he was given some time off with an 8 month rest before he showed some guts a few weeks ago in his come-back win. He was 5th in the Belmont prior on June 8, 2013 and is looking to become a grade one winner. He has a start and a win over this surface so he’s very dangerous here. On January 27th he blew out 4f in 47.90 breezing, 1/30 at Palm Meadows Training Center and most recently worked 4f on February 3rd in 49.00 on fast dirt 13/45. Revolutionary has a race record of 9:4:1:3 and breaks from post #3 with Castellano in the saddle.

I’ll take River Seven for the win in the 2014 Donn Handicap. I like that he is a stalker and should get first run on the closers and hold them off. If he runs like he did in the Harlan’s Holiday I think he’ll be very tough to catch, even for Will Take Charge. If Uncaptured doesn’t gun it from the one hole to the lead and River Seven gets loose on the lead, watch out. Revolutionary is my second pick to possibly steal the show and I think he’ll most definately hit the board. D. Wayne Lukas will have Will Take Charge up closer to the pace so we’ll see how this late runner fares if he has to go against his favorite pace scenario by charging up the stretch. Often late movers on the dirt win far less than they should as the very nature of energy exertion on that surface favors speed. Will Take Charge is the horse to beat in my opine and he’s going to be a monster this year. The only question I have is how much he has been running and the soundness of the Unbridled’s Song lineage. I hope he stays healthy this year.

So far from a wagering standpoint I’ll probably play my $20, $2 exacta with #3,5/2,3,4,5,6,8 depending on odds for the latter. Good luck to all of the runners and safe trip!

Post Positions & Odds for 2014 Donn Handicap
1. Uncaptured 10/1 M.Mena/M.Casse
2. Will Take Charge 9/5 L. Saez/D.W.Lukas
3. Revolutionary 5/1 J.Castellano/T.Pletcher
4. Neck ‘n Neck 20/1 J.Leparoux/I.Wilkes
5. River Seven 4/1 (ON) J.Rocco Jr./N.Gonzalez
6. Romansh 6/1 J.Velazquez/T.Albertrani
7. Viramundo 15/1 P.Lopez/M.Wolfson
8. Lea 10/1  J.Rosario/W.Mott
9. Bourbon Courage 10/1 J.Lezcano/K.Gorder
10. Macho Bull 30/1 M.Kappushev/G.Dorochenko
11. Joshua’s Comprise 30/1 F.Maysonett/B.Rose