HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- The opening two legs of Gulfstream Park's traditional winter sprint handicap series for fillies and mares, the six-furlong Sugar Swirl and 6 1/2-furlong Hurricane Bertie, have featured pretty much the same cast, led by the multiple graded stakes winner Hilda's Passion. But Saturday's finale, the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Inside Information, will feature an interesting new look with Hilda's Passion facing much stronger opposition that includes Beautician and Amen Hallelujah.
A field of seven was drawn Wednesday for the Inside Information with Hilda's Passion set to carry high weight of 121 pounds, including regular rider Javier Castellano. She will break from post 5.
Amen Hallelujah will be turning back from a mile for her third start of the winter. The multiple Grade 2 winner returned from nearly an eight- month layoff to finish a late-running fifth in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint before wheeling back three weeks later to check home a well-beaten second behind Awesome Maria in the Grade 3 Sabin. Amen Hallelujah was the beaten favorite in both races.
Castellano rode Amen Hallelujah in the Sabin but will be replaced by John Velazquez for the Inside Information.
Beautician, runner-up in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, won just once at 3 but opened her 4-year-old campaign with a last-to-first, one-length victory in the Pan Zaretta at Fair Grounds. She too will have a rider change on Saturday with Alan Garcia replacing her regular jockey Julien Leparoux.
The remainder of the Inside Information lineup consists of Stephanie Got Even, Milwaukee Appeal, Hurricane Bertie runner-up Ms Vanenzza, and Choragus.
Impressive maiden winner Cal Nation returns
Saturday's card will also feature the much anticipated return of Cal Nation, who registered a spectacular 7 3/4-length victory in his career debut on Feb. 5 for trainer Todd Pletcher. Cal Nation, a WinStar Farm homebred, will stretch from seven furlongs to a mile for his second start and takes on more experienced and stakes-tested rivals such as Bowman's Causeway and I'm Steppin' It Up.
Bowman's Causeway, an impressive two-turn allowance winner earlier this winter, faces allowance company for the first time after finishing a troubled fourth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. I'm Steppin' It Up makes his first start since finishing a well-beaten third behind Uncle Mo in the Grade 1 Champagne more than five months ago.
Cal Nation is one of two horses Pletcher entered in the race along with Dance City. Cane Garden Bay and Red Hills complete the lineup.
Dialed In set to work five furlongs for Florida Derby
Trainer Nick Zito said his top Kentucky Derby prospect Dialed In will have his final major work for the Grade 1 Florida Derby sometime next week. Dialed In won the Grade 3 Holy Bull in his 3-year-old debut before finishing second behind his older stablemate Equestrio when sent nine furlongs for the first time earlier this month.
"Everything is good right now," Zito said Wednesday. "I let him stretch his legs yesterday with a little two-minute lick and I'll bring him back for a good work next week. He'll go five furlongs in about 59 and change. That's all he needs to get ready for the next one."
Zito also reported that Morning Line, who finished a game second behind Giant Oak after setting a contested pace in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 5, would likely make his next start in the seven-furlong, Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 9.
Jerkens has high hopes for Society Selection's little sister
Trainer Allen Jerkens sent out Precious Soul to an impressive debut win here last Sunday and is hopeful the 3-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor could ultimately turn out to be stakes caliber, just like her older sister Society Selection.
Precious Soul, owned by Marge and Irving Cowan, disputed all the pace before edging away to a 2 1/4-length victory in the faster division of a split maiden special weight sprint for 3-year-old fillies, earning a modest 73 Beyer Speed Figure for her effort. Society Selection, whom Jerkens trained for the Cowans, was a three-time Grade 1 winner before completing her career finishing second in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Distaff. She retired with earnings of nearly $2 million.
"She has only been here a little over a month but she came to me pretty fit," Jerkens said of Precious Soul. "I thought she'd run well right off the bat but when you're not going good, you don't get confident like you would when really rolling along."
Jerkens said he's not sure what would be next for Precious Soul.
"I'll let her get over this race first," said Jerkens. "You hate to get too overconfident off just one start but I'd like to hope she'll turn out to be a stakes horse."
Jerkens, who currently has 15 horses bedded down locally, has won three races during the current meet.