Zelenskyy Strong, Awesome Strong Headline Florida Sire Series Dr. Fager Division - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Zelenskyy Strong, Awesome Strong Headline Florida Sire Series Dr. Fager Division

Awesome Strong

Trainer Jorge Delgado holds a 'strong' hand for Saturday's $100,000 Dr. Fager Division of the 2022 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series at Gulfstream Park.

Delgado entered Heehaw Racing's Zelenskyy Strong and CSLR Ranch Partners' Awesome Strong Wednesday for the first leg of the lucrative series for 2-year-old offspring of accredited stallions standing in Florida. The Dr. Fager, which drew a field of 10 will co-headline Saturday's program with the $100,000 Desert Vixen for fillies.

Zelenskyy Strong, a son of Uncaptured who debuted with a 10 ¾-length victory April 22 before finishing fifth in the June 9 Tremont at Belmont Park for trainer Peter Walder, is scheduled to make his first official start for Delgado. However, horse and trainer are hardly strangers.

“I trained him for his first race, but two weeks before the race they made a change to Peter Walder,” said Delgado, who welcomed Zelenskyy Strong back to his stable for the Florida Sire Stakes. “I'm very familiar with him.”

After winning his 4 ½-furlong debut with authority from gate to wire, Zelenskyy Strong chased the early pace while racing wide before tiring in the Tremont.

“He ran against tough competition and didn't run that bad. I think he's good enough to perform well in the Sire Stakes,” Delgado said.

Awesome Strong will make his second start for Delgado and his first start for CSLR Ranch Partners, who privately purchased the son of Awesome Slew following his impressive debut victory May 6 at Gulfstream Park.

“We didn't have a race for him here, but we didn't want to ship. In the middle of this, he was sold, and the new owner decided to stay with me,” Delgado said. “I'm really looking forward to running him.”

After breaking from the rail post position, Awesome Strong was caught in traffic on the far turn before finding room leaving the turn into the homestretch, where he kicked in to draw away by six lengths.

“He was very impressive. Every week he's been doing better and better,” Delgado said. “I've been working him in company with different horses and he's been dominating them.”

Miguel Vasquez is scheduled to ride Awesome Strong, while Ailsa Morrison is named to ride Zelenskyy Strong.

Stonehedge LLC's This Run's for You, an impressive debut winner July 23, is scheduled to make a quick turnaround for the Dr. Fager.

“It's unfortunate timing, but he came out of the race good and he's doing good,” trainer Kathleen O'Connell said. “We can give him another break after this.”

“He comes from a very good family and the owners are very patient as far as letting them develop, I was very happy with the way everything came together,” O'Connell said. “I was really proud of him because it wasn't an easy maiden special weight race.”

Stonehedge LLC's Malcoms On the Run, a three-race maiden, has also been entered in the Dr. Fager.

“He's had three horrendous races where he's been the victim of circumstances,” O'Connell said.

The homebred son of Khozan finished second in his June 3 debut following a trip in which he raced extremely wide. He followed up with a third-place finish in which he lost by less than a length after being bumped at the top of the stretch. In his most recent start July 10, he settled for third after contesting the pace three-wide.

Edgar Perez will ride This Run's for You, while Jesus Rios will be aboard Malcoms On the Run.

Arindel will also be represented by a pair of horses in the Dr. Fager, both homebred sons of Brethren coming off debut victories – Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Knox and Juan Alvarado-trained Turbo.

Knox prevailed by 1 ½ lengths over Malcoms On the Run after stalking the early pace and driving to victor along the inside. Turbo, a half-brother to multiple-stakes winner Bernie the Maestro and a full-brother to multiple stakes winner Richard the Great, graduated June 25 by 2 ½ lengths after stalking the early pace.

Sonny Leon has the call aboard Knox, while Edgard Zayas has the mount on Turbo.

William and Corinne Heiligbrodt's Undalay is scheduled to make his first start for trainer Ralph Nicks Saturday. The son of Uncaptured, who was formerly trained by Steve Asmussen, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the July 9 Prairie Meadows Juvenile. The Florida-bred colt previously graduated at Churchill Downs in his third career start a month earlier. Leonel Reyes has the call on Undalay.

Champion Equine LLC's Commandant, a $300,000 purchase at the OBS April sale, enters the Dr. Fager off an impressive debut victory June 25, in which he made an eight-wide rally from eighth to graduate by a half-length. Trainer David Braddy named Luca Panici to ride Commandant.

William Churly and Shadowbrook Farm Inc.'s Cajun Hope, who finished second behind Commandant following a late rally, will enter the Dr. Fager off a 3 ¾-length maiden victory in his fourth career start. Marcos Meneses has the call aboard the Michel Yates trainee.

“He's had some experience and I think he's coming into this race the right way,” Yates said. “He's got some races under his belt, and that's pretty important.

Yates saddled homebred Cajun's Magic for a Dr. Fager victory last year.

William Law Jr.'s Awesome Flay, who graduated for a $25,000 claiming price in his fifth career start last time out, rounds out the field. Romero Maragh has the mount on the Sandra Slivka trainee.

The Florida Sire Stakes series will continue on Sept. 3 with the $200,000 Affirmed and the $200,000 Susan's Girl for fillies at seven furlongs and on Oct. 1 with the $400,000 In Reality and the $400,000 My Dear Girl for fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

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