Horse Racing

Victor Espinoza will ride in Azalea Stakes

Victor Espinoza, who rode American Pharoah to the Triple Crown, will be available for autographs Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
Victor Espinoza, who rode American Pharoah to the Triple Crown, will be available for autographs Sunday at Gulfstream Park. AP

You don’t need a flow chart to connect Sunday’s Summit of Speed at Gulfstream Park, nine stakes races worth $1.175 million, to the biggest days of the horse racing this year.

The $150,000 seven-furlong Azalea Stakes touches the first Triple Crown in 37 years with American Pharoah jockey Victor Espinoza riding filly I’m A Looker. Espinoza rode I’m A Looker to fourth in the Jersey Girl Stakes at Belmont Park the day before guiding American Pharoah to his climactic Triple Crown win in the Belmont Stakes.

Espinoza also will be signing autographs for charity before the racing program begins at 12:30 p.m.

He last rode at Gulfstream during the 1999 Breeders’ Cup. This year’s Breeders’ Cup gets at least two qualifiers directly from Sunday’s card: the winners of the $250,000 six-furlong Princess Rooney Stakes and the $250,000 six-furlong Smile Sprint.

Hit the wire first in the Princess Rooney, for fillies and mares 3 years old and older, and get a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Do it in the Smile Sprint, and the horse gets a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and 2014 Eclipse Award winner as Male Sprinter, Work All Week, got into the race last year by winning an automatic-berth race.

Work All Week opens as the Smile favorite because of his recent form — in nine races over the past two years, he has seven wins and two seconds. But one of those seconds came in his only 2015 appearance, in the Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 30. He sustained a bruised foot while coming up short to Alsvid.

Work All Week’s owner, Midwest Thoroughbreds Richard Papiese, said the horse recently got through “a half mile in 46 and change — without asking.”

So, Papiese said, “He should be himself. That’s all you can ask for.”

Alsvid and his three-race winning streak will be there Sunday. Neither horse knows Gulfstream well.

“He seems to get over the surface pretty well,” Papiese said. “He’ll have to deal with the heat and humidity, but all the horses will.”

The Princess Rooney morning favorite, Merry Meadow, saw his three-race winning streak ended in March’s seven-furlong Inside Information, when he finished sixth. He has won four of his oast six races at six furlongs.

The other graded-stakes race on the card — the two Breeders’ qualifiers are G2s, the Azalea is a G3 — is the G3 Carry Back. The nongraded stakes races are the Bob Umphrey, Birdonthewire, Cassidy, Miesque’s Approval and Spook Express.

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