The card at Gulfstream Park was packed with high-class action on Saturday, here we cover seven Graded races. Kathleen O. earned 50 points towards the Road to the Kentucky Oaks on the dirt surface thanks to her commanding victory in the Davona Dale Stakes, while Speaker’s Corner was impressive in the G2 Gulfstream Park Mile. Speaking of the turf specialists, six-year-old Temple scored the G2 Mac Darmida Stakes as the favourite Abaan lacked the sparkle this time.
Canadian Turf Stakes
The G3 turf race for four-year-old and older horses ended in a slight surprise as the least carrying participant, four-year-old Mira Mission (84-10), scored the race thanks to a decisive move from the back of the field.
On the turf surface, a field of seven contestants clashed on the distance of a mile and a half of a furlong for the purse of $150,000, while talented Never Surprised (30-100) was the favourite, yet was too hectic throughout the race and tired himself out in the final stretch, so the coast was clear for the less preferred horses, especially the Ian Wilkes trained Mira Mission.
The gelding aimed among the Graded company after running Allowance races, and with Julien Leparoux aboard, he galloped in the last but one place, turned wide for home, but he was bursting with energy back then, suggesting he was about to have a big say on the fight for the win. In the end, he joined strongly going Mouillage (5-1) at the front and subsequently ran him down by ¾ of a length in 1m 41.43s. English Bee (101-10) took third place.
Favourite Never Surprised weakened in the final stretch so much he had to settle for fifth place, beaten even by veteran Noble Indy (106-1) in fourth.
The Very One Stakes
The $150,000 G3 race open to four-year-old fillies and older mares saw an expected victory of five-year-old Virginia Joy (4-5) trained by Chad Brown. The German-born mare covered the distance of a mile and three furlongs at the back of the field while she closed on the leaders in the final turn when Irad Ortiz urged her forward.
The bay willingly rallied ahead on the outside, and upon reaching the final stretch, she easily left the whole field behind, including currently leading Family Way (66-10). Virginia Joy didn’t win by a large margin as she crossed the line in 2m 15.92s, just one length in front on Family Way, but she definitely didn’t give everything out.
Both Family Way and third Harajuku (26-5) pursued the front more closely to better front-running mare without problems; still, they couldn’t resist Virginia Joy’s finish. Family Way was second, while Harajuku ran in third.
Beautiful Lover (6-1) was showing the way since the beginning, but the final stretch caught her quite empty, which resulted in her finishing in fourth in front of Sorrell (36-5).
Davona Dale Stakes
On the dirt surface, seven promising three-year-old fillies clashed for 50 points towards the Road to the Kentucky Oaks and the purse of $200,000. Although she was initially offered a third or even fourth chance in this mile event, Kathleen O. (23-10) started off as a favourite here, which is no wonder due to her commanding performance in a black-type company.
Back then, the Claude R. McGaughey III. bound filly suggested she should be able to take on even the G2 competition as she had oozed class, so maintaining her unbeaten record didn’t come as a surprise on Saturday. Under Javier Castellano, the daughter of Upstart settled in the back, waited patiently for the final stretch where she was quite close to the leader already, so it took just a moment before she switched to another gear on the outside and swept by her rivals.
Despite trying hard, the rest of the field was no match for the winner as Kathleen O. was just superb, crossing the line in 1m 36.23s and earning her first 50 points for the Kentucky Oaks. Classy Edition (19-5) had a good race behind the leaders and settled for second place, in other words, for 20 points towards the Kentucky Oaks, while Cocktail Memories (115-10) took third place and 10 points.
Sweet Girl Dani (47-10) was the last to be awarded some points, 5 to be precise, as she finished in fourth. The former favourite Girl With a Dream (39-10) didn’t show basically anything expected of her and crossed the wire in a distant sixth, also bettered by fifth Outfoxed (33-10).
Honey Fox Stakes
The G3 race attracted a field of 11 four-year-old fillies and older mares who competed for the purse of $150,000 on the turf surface, covering the distance of a mile. Since the beginning, Chad Brown’s In Italian (27-10) was showing the way and didn’t allow any of her rivals to get ahead her, even just for a brief moment.
The talented four-year-old chestnut galloped on the front with her ears pricked, and in the final stretch, she kept the rest of the field at bay easily, heading willingly towards the wire she crossed in 1m 35.16s.
She perfectly used her weight advantage to score her premiere Graded victory in the US, and piloted by Irad Ortiz; she left second Wakanaka behind by one and ¼ of a length. Wakanaka, trained by William Mott,, is also an import from Europe; while she travelled smoothly throughout most of the race but struggled in the final turn, losing her position so that it seemed she was finished.
However, Wakanaka found another gear, thronged through her rivals, and displayed an eye-catching turn of foot, making herself a filly to watch in the next outings. After bagging a G3 win, Navratilova (27-1) delivered a respectable performance once again, being determined to threaten In Italian as much as possible. Achieving third place still was a success for her.
Gulfstream Park Mile
The second dirt G2 race on the card was open to four-year-old and older horses who met at the distance of a mile, competing for the purse of $200,000. After bagging his premiere G3 victory, four-year-old Speaker’s Corner (13-10) was the event’s favourite despite facing Fearless (12-5), the last year’s winner of the race.
However, Speaker’s Corner’s performance was simply stellar on Saturday. Sitting second behind the leader, the colt galloped at the fence, and once Junior Alvarado urged him to switch for the lead, the William Mott trained bay obeyed enthusiastically.
As they hit the final stretch, Fearless tried to unfold his finish, but Speaker’s Corner just proved too good again as he kept extending his advantage on the rest of the field, crossing the wire completely unchallenged in 1m 33.84s. Fearless had to settle for second place, five and ½ of a length behind the sovereign winner, while Endorsed (11-1) took third.
Mac Diarmida Stakes
The favourite failed to deliver in this G2 turf race as Abaan (3-5) didn’t get a peaceful trip, unlike Temple (42-10), who the favourite bettered last time out. Trained by Michael Maker, six-year-old Temple galloped in this $200,000 event in fourth place, and covering the distance of a mile and three furlongs, he just seemed happy from the beginning until the very end.
Under Jose Ortiz, he improved his position in the last turn, then took command in the final stretch, upon which he drew clear from the rest of the field and aimed for his first Graded Stakes victory. Shamrocket (99-10) displayed a fine turn-of-foot, but Temple was too far for him to challenge him properly, so Temple reached the wire with a comfortable advantage of a length in 2m 15.30s.
More carrying Shamrocket definitely ran a better race than previously, so his second place was quite encouraging towards his upcoming starts, while Media Blitz (173-10) grabbed third behind him.
Abaan couldn’t find much more in the final stretch and finished fourth before another interesting participant, Fantasioso (155-10).
The last of Saturday’s races at the Gulfstream Park morphed into a one-horse show as unexposed Spendarella (17-10) didn’t let any of her rivals in front of herself when showing the way since the start. In this G3 turf event, three-year-old fillies clashed for the purse of $125,000, while Spendarella, piloted by Jose Ortiz, quickly jumped out of the gate and aimed for the front where she covered the whole mile distance.
As soon as the field turned for home, Spendarella was still going strong, and without doing too much, she struck gold in 1m 34.38s. For sure, Graham Motion has a talented filly in the barn, given Spendarella won impressively the G3 race when having just one outing under her belt as she bagged her debut in February.
One and ½ of a length behind, Opalina (23-5) took second place after showing off a good finish, yet she was just too distant from the front to actually fight for the win. Second place was the best she could do here, sentencing Mischievous Kiss (43-10) to the third place.
The rest of the field was no match for the mentioned trio, while a couple of fillies we were eager to see competing in the third race, namely Diamond Wow and Dolce Zel, scratched.
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