Merit Man, winner of the Spectacular Bid Stakes, will face nine rivals in Saturday's $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The seven-furlong stakes has an approximate post-time of 5:05 p.m. (ET).
Merit Man will be ridden for the first time by Paco Lopez from post 5. The colt is trained by Robert Hess Jr. for owners Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds and Stephen Barberino
"I was very happy with his race in the Spectacular Bid. He was hooked on the lead and was very game to go on from there," said Hess. "I think he will have to improve from there to the competition he will likely face in the Hutcheson. I'm not really worried about the seven-furlongs. I think anything up to a one- turn mile is well within his range."
Merit Man was second as the 1-2 favorite in November's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, losing by a nose to Hightail. The 3-year-old won the Tim Conway Stakes at San Anita on Oct. 6 after breaking his maiden as a 20-1 longshot at Del Mar. He comes into the Hutcheson with earnings of $292,000.
Breaking from post 4 will be Little Distorted, third in the Spectacular Bid. Trained by Darrin Miller, the chestnut colt will have the services of jockey Jesus Castanon.
Little Distorted won his career debut at Belmont Park on Oct. 28 and will be making just his third start overall. Owned by Silverton Hill, the colt has earned $50,800.
Leaving from the far outside post will be trainer Ian Black's Really Sharp. The chestnut colt, owned by Nancy and Richard Kaster, will be ridden by Elvis Trujillo who won last week's Holy Bull aboard Itsmyluckyday.
Really Sharp is making his seasonal debut Saturday after notching a win in five starts last year for $65,624. On Oct. 7 at Keeneland, the colt finished second in the Bourbon Stakes but was placed sixth after swerving down the stretch. He then finished third in the Nashua Stakes on Nov. 4 at Aqueduct and fourth at Woodbine on Dec. 1 in the Display Stakes.
From the rail out here is the field for the Hutcheson: Forty Tales, John Velazquez; Falling Sky, Luis Saez; Weekend Hideaway, Joe Bravo; Little Distorted, Jesus Castanon; Merit Man, Paco Lopez; Singanothersong, Jozbin Santana; Undrafted, Angel Serpa; Honorable Dillon, Joe Rocco Jr.; Pataky Kid, Corey Lanerie and Really Sharp, Elvis Trujillo.