Leon King Stable Corp’s undefeated Florida-bred Bentornato will look to become the 11th colt to sweep the male division of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Florida Sire Stakes Saturday as he is the expected favorite in the $300,000 In Reality at Gulfstream Park. The final leg of the three-race series has attracted a field of seven eligible 2-year-old colts by registered Florida sires who will go a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track.

Bentornato won the first two legs of the series at Gulfstream when he took the $100,000 Dr. Fager by a record seven-and-a-half lengths going six furlongs on Sept. 9 before winning the $200,000 Affirmed by nearly three lengths after seven furlongs on Oct. 21.

Although the In Reality will be his first race around two turns, trainer Jose D’Angelo said he is confident the son of Bridlewood Farm stallion Valiant Minister will handle the extra distance.

“He’s a fast horse,” D’Angelo said of Bentornato. “I know he will be on the lead. I think we did everything for the horse to go the distance. We’ve gotten him to relax and the horse has responded.

“The horse is very talented. We’re going to be fine.”

Bentornato began his career with a victory against Florida-bred special weight maidens over a sloppy five furlongs on July 1 before winning the $90,000 Proud Man by four-and-a-quarter lengths on Aug. 12. He has earned $278,830 in his four races and D’Angelo said Saturday’s race will determine his course next year as a 3-year-old.

“I think this horse will make his future,” D’Angelo said. “If he responds the way we think, we can point him to the [Grade 1] Florida Derby and the [Grade 1] Kentucky Derby [presented by Woodford Reserve].”

Florida Derby winners who graduated from the Florida Sire Stakes (Previously known as Florida Stallion Stakes) were Florida-bred legends Unbridled in 1990 and Holy Bull in 1994. Unbridled, who won the 1990 Kentucky Derby, is the only FSS graduate to take the Run for the Roses.

Bentornato is out of Her Special Way, by Put It Back and was bred by Tanma Corp. He was a $270,000 purchase by Champion Equine at the 2023 Ocala Breeders’ Sales March Sale where he was consigned by Golden Rock Thoroughbreds. He also sold for $45,000 as a yearling at the 2022 OBS October Sale where Pro Racing Stable selected him out of the Stuart Morris consignment.

Emisael Jaramillo will ride Bentornato from post two.

Ironhorse Racing Stable LLC and Harlow Stables LLC’s Mattingly, who was second in the Affirmed, will take another shot at Bentornato in the In Reality.

Trained by Joe Orseno, the son of Bucchero out of Battingstar, by Grand Slam made his first start on dirt in the Affirmed after winning the $90,000 Hollywood Beach going five furlongs on the synthetic course at Gulfstream on Sept. 30. He was also second when sprinting in two other stakes, including on the synthetic main track at Woodbine in the $126,000 Victoria won by Pipit in July and in the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile on the turf at Gulfstream in his first career start in May.

“I thought he would handle [dirt], but you never know,” Orseno said. “He didn’t get the best trip [in the Affirmed]. He got stopped and lost some momentum. He had to take up and get going again. He was coming on again. I’m pretty excited about the race coming up.”

Mattingly has won two of five career starts with three seconds while earning $187,028. He too is an OBS alumn, as Ironhorse Racing Stable purchased him for $70,000 out of the Two Oaks Equine consignment.

Mattingly was bred by Lance Colwell and will be ridden from post five by Edgard Zayas.

The remainder of the field for the In Reality includes Secret Love with jockey Joe Bravo, Leonel Reyes is named to ride Brawn, Lasso will have Luca Panici, Seminole Chief with Paco Lopez aboard and Miguel Vasquez has the mount on Cajun Fool.

Return to Nov. 30 issue of Wire to Wire