While most of the country is still in the grips of a winter chill, it will be a toasty 80 degrees on Sunday at Gulfstream Park when a stellar field of 11 will head to the gate in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1).
If you are wielding a snow shovel and cannot make it to Florida, not to worry. The race will be part of the debut of the Jockey Club Tour on FOX, a new series of races that will be nationally televised on FOX Sports 1. The nine episodes will highlight the top horses, trainers and jockeys throughout the year. Sunday’s 90-minute telecast will kick off at 5:00 pm (ET).
The “Jockey Club Tour on FOX” will take racing fans to the most prestigious races of the year at the best venues in racing including Belmont Park, Saratoga, Keeneland, Del Mar and even a trip to Dubai for the world’s richest race. The $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) will be contested at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on March 29.
FOX Sports 1 has put together an outstanding team of on-air personalities, led by host Greg Wolf (@WOLFonFOX) of FOX and TVG. He will be joined by former trainer and TVG analyst Simon Bray (@SimonTVG), New York Racing Association top handicapper Andy Serling (@andyserling), former jockey Richard Migliore (@RichardMigliore) and Arlington Park racing reporter Alyssa Ali (@Alyssa_Ali).
The Donn will be a great race to get the series off and running. A strong field of 11 older runners will take to the track led by Will Take Charge, who was the 2013 Eclipse Award winner for top three-year-old.
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, the colt was beaten by a combined 45 lengths in the Triple Crown races last year but was a different horse in the second half of 2013. He was beaten just by a nose by Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and then capped off his year by winning the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.
Fans who follow the Kentucky Derby will see a familiar face in the starting gate for the Donn. Revolutionary, who was third in last year’s Run for the Roses, came back off a seven-month layoff with a sharp prep win and looks primed for a top effort. The colt is trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won the Donn a record three times including saddling 2013 winner Graydar.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will send out Lea, who comes into the race off a victory in the Hal’s Hope (G3) over the Gulfstream Park main track. Mott won the Donn in back-to-back years with Cigar in 1995-96. Others coming into the race off stakes wins are Harlan Holiday Stakes winner River Seen and Discovery Handicap (G3) winner Romansh.
Another runner not to overlook is Bourbon Courage, who was third in the Harlan’s Holiday and fourth in the Clark Handicap (G1) in his last two starts. The Kellyn Gorder trainee ran second in last year’s Donn.
The Donn will go off as the last of the 12-race card with a post time of 6:01 p.m (ET).
$500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) Post time 6:01 p.m. (ET)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Uncaptured, M.Mena, 116, M Casse
2. Will Take Charge, L. Saez, 123, D W Lukas
3. Revolutionary, J. Castellano, 119, T A Pletcher
4. Neck 'n Neck, J. Leparoux, 116, I Wilkes
5. River Seven, J. Rocco Jr., 116, N Gonzalez
6. Romansh, J. Velazquez, 116, T A Albertrani
7. Viramundo, P. Lopez, 114, M D Wolfson
8. Lea, J. Rosario, 117, W I Mott
9. Bourbon Courage, J. Lezcano, 115, K Gorder
10. Macho Bull, M. Kappushev, 112, G Dorochenko
11. Joshua's Comprise, F. Maysonnett, 114, B R Rose
Go to the Daily Racing Form for free past performances for the Donn Handicap.
Follow Michael Dempsey on Twitter @turfnsport