Trainer David Kassen usually likes to give Nikki’s Sandcastle and his other top horses more than three weeks between races.
He will make an exception Saturday when he sends out Nikki’s Sandcastle in the $100,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes (Grade 2), 1 /16 mile a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 4-year-olds and up.
The 6-year-old gelding will be seeking his third consecutive win — all in Gulfstream turf stakes.
On Dec. 1, he won the $122,000 Emerald Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race that was part of Gulfstream’s opening day Claiming Crown.
On Dec. 22, he won the $75,000 El Prado at 7 1/2 furlongs.
Several minutes after the El Prado, Kassen said he thought that coming back in three weeks for the Fort Lauderdale might be too quick a turnaround for Nikki’s Sandcastle.
But after watching Nikki’s Sandcastle in training and in the barn, Kassen decided to run his horse with just a three-week break.
“He’s been winning, and he’s looking like he’s fresh and ready to run,” Kassen said Thursday.
“We’re trying to win some more money,” he added. “It might be a bit tougher, but the last one also had a strong field.”
Nikki’s Sandcastle is 5-1 in the morning line, the third-lowest odds in a 12-horse field.
He will be ridden by Corey Lanerie, who also had the mount in last month’s two stakes wins.
Dominus, trained by Todd Pletcher, is the morning-line favorite at 3-1. Hollinger at 4-1, is trained by Roger Attfield.
Dominus, Hollinger and Fifty Proof could battle for the lead.
Nikki’s Sandcastle likely will be in a second flight with Big Blue Kitten and Sky Blazer. Mucho Mas Maco is a long shot who could be gaining up the stretch.
Nikki’s Sandcastle ran for a claiming price in a race in 2011, making him eligible for the recent Claiming Crown race.
“Soon after that, he started getting better with age,” Kassen said.
Last year, Nikki’s Sandcaastle had four wins and five second-place finishes in 11 starts.
On Sunday, Gulfstream’s featured $100,000 Hal’s Hope (Grade 3) will have a 10-horse field that includes the Calder-based star Csaba, and Soldat, the winner of the 2011 Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade 2) at Gulfstream.
The Hal’s Hope is a one-turn mile on dirt for 4-year-olds and up.
Csaba, trained by Phil Gleaves has three consecutive wins, all in stakes, with two at Calder and one at Gulfstream.
Soldat, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, raced only twice last year because of injuries. He had two fast recent workouts at the Palm Meadows training center in Boynton Beach.
Pick 6 carryover
Gulfstream on Saturday will have a carryover of $159,771 for its Pick 6 bet, on the day’s last six races.
The carryover will be added to the money wagered on Friday in the Pick 6, which Gulfstream also calls the Rainbow 6.
The bet is 10 cents only, with multiple horses permitted in each race.
For example, a bet with two horses in each race has 64 combinations for a total of $6.40.
Gulfstream pays out the entire Pick 6 pool including the carryover only on days when there is just one winning ticket.
When there are multiple winners, such as on Friday, they divide 60 percent of the day’s new bets. The other 40 percent goes into the carryover.