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Jan 07, 2011

Morning Line one to beat in Hal's Hope


Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Pennsylvania Derby winner Morning Line heads a field of seven for Saturday's $100,000 Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The one-mile race is for older colts and geldings.

Trained by Nick Zito, Morning Line will start from post three with champion jockey John Velazquez in the saddle. Velazquez was the rider for the colt's neck victory in last year's PA Derby.

Morning Line closed his 2010 season with a second-place finish in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs in November. The colt has won three of seven career starts, along with three runners-up finishes, for $854,800.

Making his first start in 10 months will be Rule, trained by Todd Pletcher. The four-year-old colt will break from post two with Javier Castellano riding. Castellano was aboard Morning Line in the Breeders' Cup.

Owned by WinStar Farm, Rule last raced in the 2010 Florida Derby when he was the beaten 9-5 favorite behind Ice Box. The colt has earned $791,700 with four wins in seven lifetime starts.

Here is the complete field for the Hal's Hope in post position order: Tackleberry, Javier Santiago; Rule, Javier Castellano; Morning Line, John Velazquez; Dream Maestro, Juan Leyva; Soaring Empire, Jose Lezcano; Hear Ye Hear Ye, Jeffrey Sanchez and Caixa Eletronica, Luis Saez.

"It's going to be a tough race. Rule's coming back and (Morning Line) just got beat in the Breeders' Cup," Cam Gambolati said, trainer of Soaring Empire. "But the good thing is; I think there's a lot of speed in there, which sets it up from him (Soaring Empire) to make a run."

Quality Road won last year's Hal's Hope on his way to capturing the Donn Handicap.

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