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Thursday, December 1, 2016

It Behooves Me Sets Sights on Claiming Crown Rapid Transit

Four weeks after paying immediate dividends by winning first time out for his new connections, T D C B E Stable’s It Behooves Me takes aim at a bigger prize in Saturday’s $125,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit at Gulfstream Park.

The seven-furlong Rapid Transit and $110,000 Express at six furlongs are two of nine stakes on the $1.11 million Claiming Crown Day program that kicks off Gulfstream’s 2016-17 Championship Meet. This is the fifth straight year in South Florida for the Claiming Crown, created in 1999 to honor the blue-collar horses that are the foundation of the racing industry nationwide.

It Behooves Me had run exclusively on the West Coast when he was claimed for $16,000 out of a runner-up finish Sept. 26 at Los Alamitos. Sent to Maryland-based trainer Kieron Magee, the gelded 4-year-old son of Grade 1 Bluegrass Cat picked up $22,800 for his victory in the Rapid Transit Preview Nov. 6 at Laurel Park, earning an all-expenses-paid trip to South Florida.

“He’s good. We’re excited. We’re ready to hopefully make some money,” Magee said. “He ran so big last time that we figured, why not give it a shot. He does everything right. He’s a cool horse to be around.”

It Behooves Me was one of two horses Magee inherited after being claimed by the owner in California. The other, Nicaradalic Rocks, won the Maryland Million Sprint in October.

“I had told the owner this horse could be better than that one,” Magee said. “I told him he still has his a-other-than condition so we can go to Florida and then we can try that when we get back.”

Ridden by Julian Pimentel, It Behooves Me was unhurried in the early stages last time out before sweeping by the field with a five-wide move around the turn and going on to win by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:23.72 for seven furlongs.

“He came from way back and the rider never even hit him. Julian said he did it all by himself. He never even asked him,” Magee said. “There was plenty of speed in there so we thought to just let them go and sit off it and see what happens. I thought he’d probably be better going a little further but at the three-eighths pole he looked like a winner.”

Antonio Gallardo will ride It Behooves Me from Post 9 in a field of 11.

Shaft of Light, second in the Mr. Prospector June 26 at Monmouth Park, returns to the races for the Rapid Transit after finishing fifth as the favorite in a third-level optional claiming allowance Sept. 10 at Parx. Prior to that, he rolled by 8 ¾ lengths over the same track in a second-level event.

“He’s a super nice horse. I think he’s a stakes horse,” trainer Jorge Navarro said. “The last race he took back, and he doesn’t want to sit back there. He wants to be on the lead. He’s working really, really good. Last week he worked in 58 [seconds] and change and galloped out in 1:11. He’s ready. He’s a nice horse.”

Rounding out the field are Dancin in the Heat, Day of Fury, Fire Mission, Flashy Jewel, Marrakech, Norman’s Hero, Prudhoe Bay, Sharp Art and Tenango.

Stakes Winner Defer Heaven Aims for New Streak in $110,000 Express

Monster Racing Stables’ Defer Heaven, who lost for the first time in three races last time out, will attempt to regain his winning form in the $110,000 Express for horses that have run for a claiming price of $8,000 or less lifetime.

A 6-year-old Defer gelding, Defer Heaven returns to Gulfstream where he has won five of six career starts, the only loss coming in the seven-furlong Sir Shackleton in April. On Feb. 15 he romped to a front-running 8 ¼-length victory in the seven-furlong Trust Buster.

“I think he’s better going seven-eighths,” Navarro said. “Going three-quarters, he’s not that fast out of the gate. Second quarter, he’s pretty fast. The longer he goes, the better he gets. I don’t think coming out of the gate he’s got that speed.”

Overall Defer Heaven owns 18 wins from 34 career starts, and he is 11-for-20 lifetime at six furlongs. In his most recent start, he led early but tired to finish sixth of seven in a third-level optional claiming allowance Sept. 10 at Parx

“The race at Parx, coming from a fast track at Monmouth Park, the track was real deep and he didn’t get over it. He had a good summer, so we backed off and gave him a break,” Navarro said. “He’s a pretty cool, neat horse to be around. He loves Gulfstream Park. He likes the fast tracks.”

David Jacobson-owned and trained Proper Freud earned automatic entry to Express with his half-length victory Nov. 6 at Laurel, where he came four wide down the stretch after running in mid-pack and got up in time, hitting the wire in 1:10.97. It marked the second straight win for the 5-year-old son of 2005 Preakness (G1) and Belmont (G1) winner Afleet Alex, both since being claimed for $40,000 Aug. 24.

Also entered are Alfredo Romana, Blings Express, Capital City, Como Se Llama, Divine Ambition, Express Jet, Great Lou, J B Quick, Li’l Meatball, stakes-placed Mitos Y Leyendas, Running Cat and Skippy Is Back.

Claimed for $12,500 out of his last start Nov. 4 at Aqueduct, Great Lou is making his first start for owner Ken Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker. Ramsey and Maker have a record 14 wins apiece in the Claiming Crown.

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