Trainer Bill Mott sent out Swettenham Stud’s Irish-bred
filly Dress Rehearsal to capture the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream
Park last year and will have the likely favorite and horse to beat in Sunday’s
renewal of the 1 ½ miles filly and mare turf marathon with Swettenham’s
5-year-old Irish homebred mare Changing Skies.
Jockey Jorge Chavez gets the call on Changing Skies, a
daughter of international champion sire Sadler’s Wells, who rallied to a
half-length victory in the 11-furlong The Very One Stakes (G3) over the course
last out on Feb. 27 in her first start since October at Keeneland. Changing
Skies was Group stakes-placed in France earlier in her career.
The victory of Dress Rehearsal was the third in the 47-year
history of the Orchid for nine-time Gulfstream meet leading trainer Mott, who
sent out Gaily Gaily to score in 1989 and Crockadore in 1992 in the earlier
years of his Hall of Fame career.
Finishing second to Dress Rehearsal last year was
Lamentation for trainer Christophe Clement, who has won the Orchid six times
previously, including four straight renewals from 1999-2002. The French-born
horseman will be well represented in his bid for a seventh victory in the race
Sunday by Philip Freedman’s 5-year-old mare Cable.
Jockey Alan Garcia gets the return call on Cable as she
comes back from a good effort finishing third in The Very One, beaten two
lengths by Changing Skies after rallying from last in the field of 13 into the
final turn. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Dynaformer, Cable rallied for second in
the nine-furlong Suwannee River Stakes (G3) in her previous start.
In addition to Changing Skies, Mott has entered Zayat
Stable’s highly-accomplished 5-year-old mare Mushka with solid credentials of
her own as she switches back to turf after making her last three starts on
synthetic tracks at Keeneland and Santa Anita.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux rides Mushka as she makes her first
appearance on turf since capturing the 11-furlong Glens Falls Handicap (G3) at Saratoga in early
September. The daughter of Empire Maker finished a game second in the Breeders’
Cup Ladies Classic (G1) behind former Mott charge Life Is Sweet at Santa Anita
on Nov. 6, but failed to show her best last out finishing fifth in the Santa
Margarita (G1) on Feb. 14.
Completing the field of 11 entered in the Orchid are
Jessica Coudelaria’s Celtic Princess, Eurico Rosa Da Silva; Charles Fipke’s
Lady Shakespeare, John Velazquez; Andrew Rosen’s Liberally, Rajiv Maragh; Lucas
Downs Ltd’s Love to Tell, Jesus Castanon; Louise and G. Watts Humphrey, Jr.’s
Magical Theater, C.H. Marquez, Jr.; Statehouse Stable’s Nehantic Cat, Javier
Castellano; Farnsworth Stable’s Speak Easy Gal, Elvis Trujillo; and Blue Top
Holdings’ Who Plays Brahms, Jose Lezcano.