Bentornato Looms as Big Favorite for Saturday’s $200,000 Affirmed

Welcome Back Looking to Go Distance in $200,000 Susan’s Girl 


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Jose D’Angelo hopes to relive a career achievement at Gulfstream Park, when he saddles his undefeated Florida-bred duo of Bentornato and Welcome Back in Saturday’s second leg of the 2023 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series.

D’Angelo, who is locked in a tight three-way battle for the Sunshine Meet training title with Saffie Joseph Jr. and Victor Barboza Jr., saddled King Leon Stable Corp.’s Bentornato for a romping victory in the $100,000 Dr. Fager and Soldi Stables LLC’s hombred Welcome Back for a fast-closing narrow triumph in the $100,000 Desert Vixen to sweep the six-furlong first-leg races for juveniles sired by accredited Florida stallions.

Bentornato looms as a big favorite in a field of 12 entered Sunday for the $200,000 Affirmed, which will be contested at seven furlongs. Welcome Back appears to have a tougher task in the $200,000 Susan’s Girl, the seven-furlong co-feature for fillies.

Bentornato has two stakes victories on his unblemished, three-race resume. After rallying for a narrow debut victory at five furlongs July 1, the son of Bridlewood Farm stallion Valiant Minister overcame early bumping to register an eye-catching, four-and-a-quarter-length in $90,000 Proud Man after leading from gate to wire while going six furlongs on Aug. 12.

He came right back with a record seven-and-a-half-length win after leading from the start in the Dr. Fager.

Bentornato is out of Her Special Way, by Put It Back and was bred in Florida by Tanma Corp.

Emisael Jaramillo has been aboard Bentornato for all three wins and gets the return mount on the earner of $158,830.

Bentornato has drawn post seven.

Florida-bred Mattingly – Lauren King Photo

Ironhorse Racing Stable LLC and Harlow Stables LLC’s Mattingly is scheduled to make his main track debut in the Affirmed with an impressive record on turf and synthetic tracks.

The Joe Orseno-trained son of Pleasant Acres Stallions resident Bucchero debuted with a second to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1)-bound No Nay Never (Ire) in the $100,000 Royal Palm Juvenile on the Gulfstream Park turf on May 13. He was also second to Pipit in the CA$126,000 Victoria at Woodbine on synthetic in July before his length-and-a-quarter victory last time out in the $90,000 Hollywood Beach at Gulfstream on Sept. 30.

Mattingly will be ridden by Samy Camacho from post 10.

Trainer Christophe Clement has entered Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Hurricane Nelson in the Affirmed.

The son of Journeyman Stud’s leading Florida sire Khozan will seek to graduate Saturday after finishing second in his first two starts in New York. He fell a half-length short of graduating in his Aug. 12 debut at Saratoga before checking in second again a month later at Aqueduct.

Hurricane Nelson drew post nine and gets the riding services of Edgard Zayas.

Brad Grady and David Grund’s Seminole Chief, a son of Girvin, is scheduled to make his stakes debut for trainer Jack Sisterson after capturing his Sept. 11 debut at Finger Lakes by a going-away eight lengths.

Shooting Star Thoroughbreds LLC’s Echo Lane, Champion Equine LLC’s Esperon, Arindel’s Lasso, Just For Fun Stable Inc.’s Roar Ready, Scott Savin and Savin Sisters Stable’s Rye’s My Guy, Cammarota Racing LLC’s Secret Lover, Lawson Racing Stables’ Sound of the Beast, and Screen Door Stables LLC’s Squints round out the field.

Florida-bred Welcome Back – Lauren King Photo

Welcome Back is slated to seek her third-straight victory while facing 11 other fillies in the Susan’s Girl. The daughter of Ocala Stud stallion Adios Charlie took on winners in her July 29 debut in a $75,000 optional claiming on the all-weather course in which she closed from far back before drawing off to a nearly two-length score. She was the odds-on favorite for her return in the Desert Vixen but had to work for a nose decision after being steadied in traffic coming out of the far the turn under rider Edwin Gonzalez.

Welcome Back is out of Lady Marchella, by Afleet Alex and has $91,300 in career earnings.

Gonzalez has the return mount on Welcome Back and they will depart from post nine.

Welcome Back figures to have her work cut out for her if she is to emerge undefeated from the Susan’s Girl with a challenge by undefeated R Harper Rose.

Averill Racing and Two Eight Racing LLC’s R Harper Rose was the morning-line favorite for the Desert Vixen, only to be scratched after coming down with a slight fever a few days earlier. The daughter of Khozan recovered quickly and made an impressive return to action while capturing a non-winners of two, $75,000 optional claiming by nearly six lengths going five-and-a-half furlongs on Sept. 22.

The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained filly had previously debuted with a front-running debut victory by six-and-a-quarter lengths on Aug. 5.

Edgard Zayas has the return mount and they have post 11.

Arindel’s Mist, a homebred daughter of Brethren, will seek to turn the tables on Welcome Back, after coming within a nose of victory in the Desert Vixen.

Brad Grady’s Honey Dijon is scheduled to ship in from Kentucky for the Susan’s Girl. The Joe Sharp-trained daughter of Girvin broke her maiden at seven furlongs at Saratoga in her second career start before finishing an even sixth over Kentucky Downs turf in the Untapable Stakes.

Robyn Kaiser’s Bucchera, Quintessential Racing Florida and Rocky Top Stable’s Dancing N Dixie, Jacks or Better Farm Inc.’s Fields of Green, BC Racing LLC’s Haunted, Just For Fun Stable Inc.’s Jazzin, Gelfenstein Farm LLC’s Reina Mar, and Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Unrelentless round out the field.

Return to Oct. 15 issue of Wire to Wire