Will Griff move forward or bounce after running a big race following a lengthy layoff? That is the dilemma facing handicappers when he runs in a $62,500 optional-claiming race with starter conditions at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
Trained by Timothy Hills, Griff figures to be a short price in the one-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that drew six horses.
Following a sharp win at Laurel in the $100,000 City of Laurel for 3-year-olds on Nov. 15, 2014, Griff went on the shelf for more than 15 months. In his return in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Sprint on Feb. 27, he rallied to finish fourth in the 6 1/2-furlong dash. The winner, X Y Jet, came back with a huge effort, just missing in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan.
Hills gave Griff plenty of time to recover from his comeback race. If his solid set of interim works is any indication, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take a big step forward with Eddie Castro picking up the mount.
Griff has tactical speed and will need to use it to stay in touch with what could be a moderate pace likely set by Percussion.
Percussion has been a gem of consistency since being claimed by trainer Jorge Navarro for $20,000 last May. Navarro gambled and won when he brought him back in a $10,000 claiming race at Monmouth, where he romped by 7 1/2 lengths. Since moving to Navarro’s barn, Percussion has compiled a 2-3-3 record from 8 starts.
He is coming off a disappointing effort, finishing third as the heavy favorite in a $12,500 starter optional-claiming race March 24.
Griff, by Rockport Harbor
Last 3 Beyers: 99-103-88
He seems perfectly suited for a one-turn mile, and if he doesn’t regress following his big effort coming off the bench, he will be tough to handle.
He should get a nice trip from a stalking position after breaking from the outside post.
Percussion, by Bluegrass Cat
Last 3 Beyers: 78-84-86
Anything coming out of this barn has to be respected, and he could be the controlling speed if Face of Winner doesn’t break alertly from the rail.
Face of Winner, by Street Boss
He probably needed his race going seven furlongs last Sunday, and he won’t mind stretching out to a slightly longer distance.