The 2013 Triple Crown trail begins New Year's Day at Gulfstream Park with a pair of stakes for newly turned 3-year- olds. Kentucky Derby hopefuls will compete in both the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby at a mile and the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at six-furlongs.
Last year the Gulfstream Park Derby was won by Reveron in the stakes' inaugural edition.
John Oxley's Star Contender is in from Canada for trainer Mark Casse. The colt, making his first start on real dirt, will be ridden by Patrick Husbands and start from post four in the eight-horse field.
Star Contender has won two of his four starts with a second and third all at Woodbine. He began his career by finishing third in the $200,000 Simcoe Stakes and then breaking his maiden as the 3-2 favorite.
With Husbands in the saddle, the colt won the $250,000 Cup and Saucer Stakes on turf on Oct. 20 as the 5-2 favorite. Star Contender finished second as the even-money favorite on Nov. 10 in the $250,000 Coronation Futurity on Woodbine's synthetic main track. His earnings total $262,398.
"We had a lot of nice 2-year-olds this year and he was the greenest of the bunch," said Casse. "He's Canadian-bred and there are so many good races for them at Woodbine, we just left him up there. He's trained very well on dirt, but it's a question you want to answer."
Here is the field in post position order for the Gulfstream Park Derby: Undrafted, John Velazquez; Purple Egg, Joe Rocco Jr.; Uptown Anthem, Juan Leyva; Sr. Quisqueyano, Joel Rosario; Itsmyluckyday, Paco Lopez; Almost English, Jose Lezcano; Star Contender, Patrick Husbands and Joshua's Comprise, Kent Desormeaux.
Post-time for the Gulfstream Park Derby is set for 4:35 p.m. (ET).
The six-furlong Spectacular Bid has attracted six newly turned 3-year-olds.
The top horse is Merit Man, second in this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint to Hightail on Nov. 2. The colt will be ridden by Joel Rosario from the inside post.
Trained by Robert Hess, Merit Man won the Tim Conway Stakes at San Anita on Oct. 6 after breaking his maiden as a 20-1 longshot. In his three races the colt has earned $192,000.
From the rail out here is the field for the Spectacular Bid: Merit Man, Joel Rosario; Rockyshomerun, Gary Bain; Cat Five Hurricane, Kent Desormeaux; Brave Dave, Paco Lopez; Little Distorted, Javier Castellano and City of Weston, Luis Saez.
Post-time will be approximately 1:41 p.m. (ET).