We love to see our Spa owners doing well - congratulations to Carlo and Little Dreams Racing!
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Owner and trainer Carlo Vaccarezza was one of the big stars of the Nov. 7 Millions Preview Day, capturing the Millions Turf Sprint Preview with Jewel of a Cat and the Juvenile Turf Stakes with Little Nick V. They are two of the seven winners Vaccarezza has saddled over the past two weeks at Gulfstream Park West, a streak he attributes to the maturing of his young horses and the advantages he believes he has gained since moving his operation to the Palm Meadows training center earlier this season.
Jewel of a Cat, a 5-year-old daughter of Wildcat Heir, joined Vaccarezza’s barn a month ago after having been campaigned by Ben Perkins Jr. Facing males in the Millions Turf Sprint Preview, Jewel of a Cat contested the early pace before edging away to a three-length victory while earning a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure.
“My partner, John Williams, was the majority owner in Jewel of a Cat,” said Vaccarezza. “He recently purchased the remaining share of the horse and sent her to me down here. She is a very fast filly who was training great at Palm Meadows, so I decided to try her against the boys. She had run some huge races at Saratoga and Gulfstream before I got her, and I felt she was the class of the field. I really don’t think it makes much difference running a filly against colts at five furlongs, especially on the turf – not like it might around two turns.”
Little Nick V., named after his son, is one of nine yearlings Vaccarezza purchased for a mere $68,000 in total at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. By Colonel John, Little Nick V. entered the Juvenile Turf a maiden but left a stakes winner, scoring by a nose under jockey Jeffrey Sanchez.
“This horse got into a ton of trouble and should have won his first start,” said Vaccarezza, referring to Little Nick V.’s third-place finish in his debut. “So, in my mind, he really wasn’t a maiden coming into the stakes. He raced a little green, ran into trouble, and still won. He showed me a lot of class there.”
Vaccarezza said he’ll probably run Jewel of a Cat next in the Sunshine Millions Turf Sprint on Jan. 16 at Gulfstream.
“If she continues to run well, she might remain in training another year,” he said. “If not, I was thinking of breeding her to Empire Maker.
“Little Nick V. came out of his race well, but I don’t think I’ll run him back anytime soon. At the moment, there isn’t a race for 3-year-olds on the Sunshine Millions Day card. But I think there is some talk between the track and breeders about adding a couple between now and then.”
Vaccarezza said his horses have thrived at Palm Meadows.
“It’s really a tremendous facility, and it continues to improve all the time,” said Vaccarezza, who owned and bred 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike. “I’ve moved my spa up here, and it’s available for everyone to use. One of the biggest advantages is the fact we get to use the turf course to train on five days a week, and we have the starting gate available three days a week. I think next summer you’ll see about 600 horses staying here year-round to train at Palm Meadows.”
Vaccarezza said he has 35 horses in training at Palm Meadows, including several promising 2-year-olds who have yet to start.
“I did fairly well at Gulfstream Park last winter and spring, but I knew I’d be slow during the summer because I had so many 2-year-olds in my barn, and I try to prepare my young horses for later in the year,” said Vaccarezza. “I was looking for a big meet at Gulfstream West, and so far, things have worked out that way. I’m blessed to have owners like John Williams and Paul Pompa in my corner. It’s very encouraging to know guys like that believe in you. I paid $68,000 for nine yearlings at the sale last fall, and eight of them are left, including Little Nick V. and Little Priscilla, who I got for $4,000 and just won a maiden special weight with by seven lengths. None of them may turn out to be champions, but they are going to win their share of races.”