BY BROCK SHERIDAN
Soldi Stable LLC and Ohana Racing Stable LLC’s Amstrong and My Purple Haze Stables’ Florida-bred Smart Striker, the one-two finishers respectively in the $75,000 Not Surprising on the Gulfstream Park synthetic course on June 10, are set to again clash on the Gulfstream all-weather course Saturday in the $75,000 Bear’s Den. While the Not Surprising was run at a mile-and-a-sixteenth, the nine 3-year-olds in the Bear’s Den will race at the slightly shorter distance of a mile-and-70-yards.
The Bear’s Den also offers a $25,000 win bonus for registered Florida-breds presented by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association.
Amstrong will try to win for the first time in three starts since the Not Surprising having finished seventh in the Grade 3 Manilla won by More Than Looks going a mile on the turf at Belmont Park on July 7 and third last out in a second-level, $40,000 optional claiming won by Galerio going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track at Laurel Park on Aug. 4.
Amstrong is trained by Jose D’Angelo and the Not Surprising was his second consecutive victory after breaking his maiden on the Gulfstream Park synthetic course on April 15. The son of Tapwrit out of Abbreviate, by Harlan’s Holiday will bring into the Bear’s Den a lifetime record of two wins and two thirds in six starts with earnings of $87,100.
Miquel Vasquez will ride Amstrong from post eight.
Smart Striker has three starts since the Not Surprising including a last out win against first-level, $20,000 optional claimers going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the inner turf at Colonial Downs on Sept, 2. He had two off the board finishes just after the Not Surprising, one on synthetic against first-level, $20,000 optional claimers won by Monforte at Gulfstream on June 3 and another on the turf against first condition, $25,000 optional claimers at Colonial Downs on Aug. 12 behind winner Carronade at nine furlongs on the turf.
Smart Striker has two wins and three seconds in 10 career starts with earnings of $103,240.
Trainer Terri Pompay will tighten the girth on Smart Striker and Leonel Reyes will ride from post one.
Another top contender in the Bear’s Den is Florida-bred Rockin Roller for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. and owner Donald H. Mensh.
Rockin Roller has won two of his last four including a last out victory on the Gulfstream Park synthetic in a first level, $25,000 optional claimers sprinting five-and-a-half furlongs on Aug. 5.
The son of Ami’s Flatter defeated Florida-breds in a first level, $20,000 optional claiming at five furlongs on the Gulfstream Park turf in May before a third and a fourth while sprinting on the synthetic course at Gulfstream at the $25,000 optional claiming level in June and July.
Rockin Roller is by out of Lady Carlotta, by Montbrook and has won four of 11 career starts with one second and two thirds with earnings of $144,500. He was bred by Ocala Stud, who consigned him to last year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales June Sale where Mensh purchased him for $20,000.
Edgard Zayas will ride the bay colt from post five.
Also look for Florida-bred Lightning Tones, winner of the $100,000 Carry Back going seven furlongs on the main track in June at Gulfstream for owner and trainer Daniel Hurtak.
Bred in Florida by H & A Stables, Lightning Tones makes his first start on the all-weather course since finishing fourth behind winner English Painter going a mile-and-70-yards in January.
Lightning Tones is by Tonalist out of Rosesandlightning, by Lightnin N Thunder and has three wins in 12 career starts with three seconds and a third with earnings of $132,020.
Marco Meneses will ride Lightning Tones from post three.
The remainder of the field includes Unified Weekend with Emisael Jaramillo named to ride, Florida-bred Loco Abarrio with jockey Edwin Gonzalez, McMoney with Olaf Hernandez aboard, Love Me Not and jockey Jose Morelos and Florida-bred Free Smokin will carry Samy Leon.