The Grade 2, $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes drew 10 strong turf runners, including Halladay, who won the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap in August at Saratoga. Bringing a perfect 3-for-3 record on the Gulfstream Park turf course into the race, Halladay earned his last four wins leading from start to finish, often running the field off their feet in the early stages then coasting along to the finish line.
In the Ft. Lauderdale, Halladay draws the extreme outside post and should have a number of horses inside of him also vying for the lead such as Factor This, winner of the Grade 2 Dinner Party Stakes in October; and Somelikeithotbrown, winner of the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap in July. That makes for an interesting pace scenario, which opens up the door for a number of other contenders. Spooky Channel, who won the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight Stakes last January at Gulfstream Park, may appreciate the pace battle. So could Channel Cat, who won the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes in summer 2019 and returns from a nine-month rest. Breaking the Rules nearly won the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes on this turf course in March 2019 and may have a say. Largent won the Bert Allen Stakes when last seen in October and steps into graded stakes company for the first time, as do last-out winners Doswell and Tide of the Sea. Last but certainly not least is Delaware, who won the Group 3 Shadwell Prix Daphnis in France last summer and who most recently was beaten by a neck as part of a three-horse photo finish in the Artie Schiller Stakes.
Delaware may have turned a corner in his most recent race, his fourth since he was transferred from Europe to the U.S. After an eighth-place finish at Belmont Park in June in a stakes race in his North American debut, Delaware finished second in a high-level allowance race then shipped to Woodbine to run in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes, where he was sent to post as the favorite but managed only to finish fifth. Given three months off, Delaware returned in the Artie Schiller Stakes in New York and proceeded to run his best race in the states to date, rallying late to miss winning by a neck and a head. The 107 Equibase Speed Figure is much higher than the 92 figure 2019 Ft. Lauderdale winner Instilled Regard earned and the effort is very likely to be improved upon in the colt’s second start back after three months away from the races. North American leading jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. rides Delaware right back after his big effort last month. With a contested early pace battle forecast between Halladay, Factor This, and Somelikeithotbrown, it is very possible Delaware will rally in time to win.
Spooky Channel will most likely be much farther back in the early stages than Delaware, but he has the kick to post the upset, just as he did last January when winning the McKnight Handicap. That effort earned a career-best 113 Equibase Speed Figure, which he duplicated in May when winning in a stakes-quality allowance race. Jockey Julien Leparoux was aboard for both wins and rides again in the Ft. Lauderdale, which portends well for Spooky Channel potentially to post the upset with a last-to-first rally.
Doswell has never finished worse than second in six career turf races at distances ranging from seven furlongs to 1 ¼ miles. When returning from an 11-month layoff in August and after changing trainers to Barclay Tagg, Doswell ran the best race of his career with a 97 speed figure. Nearly two months later in October, Doswell ran even better, improving to a 104 Equibase Speed Figure. Since shipping to Florida from New York, Doswell put in a sensational workout of five-eighths of a mile on turf in :58.65, which was the fastest of 17 on the day at the distance, suggesting even better may be forthcoming in the Ft. Lauderdale.
The rest of the field (with best Equibase Speed Figure): Breaking the Rules (110), Channel Cat (108), Factor This (118), Halladay (115), Largent (109), Somelikeithotbrown (117) and Tide of the Sea (102)
Win Contenders, in preference order: