Making his first start in more than four months, Florida-bred Yes I Am Free appears to be among the favorites to win the featured eighth race at Gulfstream Park Friday, opening day of the track’s winter Championship Meet. The 7-year-old gelding is among four Florida-breds in the full field of a dozen 3-year-olds and older who will race five furlongs on the new turf course for a purse of $72,000 in the $62,500 optional claiming.

A 7-year-old gelding, Yes I Am Free will race for the first time since being placed second after finishing third behind winner Nobody Listens in the $100,000 Parx Dash going five furlongs on the turf at Parx Racing on Aug. 22.

Yes I Am Free returns to the Gulfstream Park turf course for the first time since winning the $60,000 Sunny Isle overnight handicap by three-and-a-quarter lengths going five furlongs on April 29, his ninth win in 17 starts on the Gulfstream Park grass.

Among his victories sprinting on the Gulfstream Park green are two wins in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint in 2022 and 2023, the most recent on Feb. 11; the 2022 Silks Run and the 2019 Texas Glitter in his second career start.

Yes I Am Free also returns to the barn of trainer Laura Cazares after being saddled by Gerald Bennet in the Parx Dash. Cazares has trained the son of Uncaptured since April of 2021 when she claimed him for $62,500 for current owners John and Paula Szalay of Peninsula, Ohio, who race in the name of Golden Kernel Racing Stable.

Yes I Am Free is out of Yes It’s Valid, by Yes It’s True and was bred by Sherry Mansfield and Kenneth H. Davis. His lifetime record sits at 12 wins with five seconds and three thirds in 30 starts with earnings of $681,894.

He is a graduate of the 2018 Ocala Breeders’ Sales June Sale where Justin Casse purchased him as an agent for $135,000 out of the Hawk’s Nest consignment.

Emisael Jaramillo will ride Yes I Am Free from post nine.

His main adversary looks to be Bad Beat Brian, who will be saddled by owner Brittany Vanden Berg, a new face among the winter trainer colony at Gulfstream Park.

Bad Beat Brian exits a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Woodford won by Arzak going five-and-a-half furlongs on the turf at Keeneland on Oct. 7. That came after finishing third in the Grade 2 Turf Sprint won by Gear Jockey going six furlongs on the undulating turf at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 9. His last victory came in a $175,000 optional claiming going five-and-a-half furlongs on the turf at Churchill Downs in May.

A 6-year-old son of Jack Milton, Bad Beat Brian has won eight with seven seconds and seven thirds with earnings of $728,659.

Vanden Berg has given the riding assignment to Chris Emigh and they will start to the immediate right of Yes I Am Free from post ten.

Florida-bred Mamba On Three returns to the Gulfstream Park grass course after two starts sprinting on the track’s synthetic course. The 5-year-old gelded son of Big Drama won a top condition, $62,000 optional claiming on Oct. 6 before finishing second in his last start when beaten a neck by Florida-bred Full Disclosure going five furlongs, under similar $62,500 optional claiming conditions, on Nov. 4.

Mamba On Three is out of Miss Grandiose, by Grand Slam and was bred Carl Bowling and Hallmarc Stallions LLC. He now races for Palm Beach Racing V LLC and looks to improve on his record of six wins, six seconds and five thirds in 23 starts with earnings of $272,320.

Trainer Carlos A. David has given the call on Mamba On Three to jockey Samy Camacho Jr. and they have drawn post three.

Also representing Florida breeders is Avant Glory, who comes into Friday’s race off of a third-place finish going six furlongs on the main track against upper level, $62,500 optional claimers at Gulfstream on Oct. 22.

Bred by Red Oak Stable and owned by Gelfenstein Farm LLC, Avant Glory is trained by Roderick Rodriguez and Edwin Gonzalez will ride from the inside post one.

Avant Glory is by Journeyman Stud leading Florida sire Khozan out of Shes Got the Look, by Ocala Stud stallion Adios Charlie and has won three of 13 career starts with six seconds and a third and earnings of $167,005.

Set to start from post eight is Florida-bred Rockin Roller for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.

The son of Ami’s Flatter was sixth, but beaten less than two lengths most recently in the aforemented $62,500 optional claiming won by Full Disclosure on Nov. 4, and was fifth, also by less than two lengths behind winner Mamba On Three on Oct. 6.

Rockin Roller was purchased for $20,000 by current owner Donald H. Mensh at last year’s OBS June Sale where he was consigned by breeder Ocala Stud.

Rockin Roller will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post eight.

Rounding out the field are Souzak (Fr), who will be ridden by Jorge Ruiz, Axthelm and jockey Edgard Zayas, Mounsieur Coco with Miguel Vasquez, Zarak (Chi) will carry Leonel Reyes, No Nay Hudston (Ire) has jockey Paco Lopez, Joe Bravo ride Xy Speed and Crispy Cat has Jose Morelos taking the riding assignment.

Return to Nov. 26 issue of Wire to Wire