Freshened after competing in two legs of the Triple Crown, Gunnevera is scheduled to return to action Sunday at Gulfstream Park in the $ 100,000 Tangelo Stakes
Peacock Racing Stables’ multiple graded-stakes winner is slated to face five rivals in the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds that is designed by trainer Antonio Sano to serve as a prep race for the Aug. 26 Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
Gunnevera has been training sharply over the Gulfstream Park West track, producing five consecutive five-furlong bullet workouts.
“He’s been training very well,” Sano said. “His condition is perfect.”
Gunnevera hasn’t run since finishing fifth in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico May 20. The son of Dialed In had previously finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs May 6.
“He’s put on more weight. He’s a very happy horse,” Sano said.
Edgard Zayas, who has been aboard the late-running colt in his sharp workouts, has been named to ride Gunnevera for the first time.
“Edgard knows the horse very well,” Sano said. “He knows Gulfstream.”
Gunnevera broke his maiden at Gulfstream last summer in his third career start after finishing behind eventual Florida Sire Stakes champion Three Rules in his first two starts. The Kentucky-bred colt came right back to win the Saratoga Special (G2) and would close out his 2-year-old campaign with a 5 ¾-length triumph in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3).
The Sano trainee launched his 2017 campaign with a second-place finish behind Irish War Cry in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream before closing from last to win the Fountain of Youth (G2) going away by 5 ¾ lengths. In the Florida Derby (G1), Gunnevera dropped back to last after breaking from the far-outside post position before making a strong run to finish third behind Always Dreaming, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby.
Sano expressed confidence that Gunnevera will run well in his return.
“I hope the horse wins Saturday. Then, he will run in the Travers,” said Sano, who has tentatively scheduled his colt to be shipped to Saratoga Aug. 18.
Multiple stakes-placed Front Loaded, a winner of two of his last three starts, is among the most serious of Gunnevera’s challengers. A runner-up to stablemate Three Rules in the $ 300,000 FSS Affirmed Division last year, the son of Kantharos most recently registered a heavily pressured front-running triumph in a mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream. Miguel Vasquez has the mount aboard Stephen Rousseau and Calypso Stable’s gelding.
Prince Tito, a late-developing son of Pioneerof the Nile; Unbridled Holiday, who finished off the board in the Florida Derby; and Arrecife and Manolete round out the field. The Tangelo will be the fourth of 12 races Sunday. First race post is 12:45 p.m.
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