Brazilian import Ana Luisa
will have plenty of company when she
makes her first start on American soil in Sunday’s $100,000 South Beach
at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Todd Pletcher for Stud TNT, the multiple group stakes winner
in her native country drew post seven in a full field that includes
Dreaming of Sophia, entered for main track only, and Interesting, who
needs a scratch to draw into the body of the race.
“We haven’t run her before, and we’re trying to get to know her,”
Pletcher said. “Right now, we’re just trying to find some
Ana Luisa, who will be running on Lasix for the first time in the South
Beach, won the first three starts of her career earlier this year for
previous trainer Paulo Lobo. After breaking her maiden in February, she
claimed the Group 3 Emerald Hill on dirt and Group 2 Pres. Guilherme
Ellis on turf by 5 ½ combined lengths.
The Ellis, like the South Beach, was run at 7 ½ furlongs on the grass.
Her South American campaign earned Ana Luisa champion 2-year-old filly
honors from the Brazilian Jockey Club for 2012-13.
“She’s been training well on both surfaces, and it looks like she’s had
success in Brazil on turf and dirt,” Pletcher said. “We’re just kind of
looking for the correct distance to bring her back. Seven and a half
[furlongs] seems like a logical in-between distance to get her going.”
Based with Pletcher at Palm Meadows, Ana Luisa has prepped fhttp://www.horseracingnation.com/edit/newsedit.aspxor her
debut with a string of steady works since mid-October, most recently
going four furlongs in 51.10 seconds on Dec. 9.
Bred by Stud TNT on their 2,100-acre complex in southern Brazil near
the border of Uruguay, Ana Luisa is the first group stakes winner from
her sire Elusive Quality’s first crop in Brazil.
She is one of a handful of Brazilian horses Pletcher has taken on from
Stud TNT, along with Viva Rafaela, whose first win in three North
American starts came at Gulfstream on Nov. 11, also on grass, and
Vitoria Olimpica, winner of the Alydar Stakes this summer at Saratoga
and fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park, both on
Pletcher said there are unique challenges in acclimating horses from South America.
“It’s kind of an ongoing process,” he said. “We generally send them up
to my dad’s farm in Ocala to begin with, and they get some time there to
get used to training with a saddle on every day. From our experience,
it takes them anywhere from six months to a year to get them fully
acclimated. It seems like the longer they’re here, the more they
“The climate here is similar to what they’re used to, but they’re on a
different cycle. When it’s summer here it’s winter there, and I think it
takes them a little while to adjust to that. Plus most of them are born
later in the year after September, and then they’re competing against
older horses here. It's a combination of maturity and acclimation and
mainly just time that helps them.”
Joel Rosario will ride Ana Luisa, who is second choice on the morning line at 4-1.
The 3-1 program favorite for the South Beach is Baffle Me
4-year-old daughter of First Samurai who will break from just inside Ana
Luisa in post six under jockey Javier Castellano.
Baffle Me takes a two-race win streak into the South Beach, taking a
pair of seven-furlong turf stakes at Belmont Park for trainer Mark
Hennig. She has also been second in a pair of longer grass stakes this
year, including a neck loss to Grade 1 winner Samitar in the $100,000
Speed Boat at Saratoga in September.
“She’s had a good fall,” Hennig said. “She just keeps maturing. She’s
always been a little bit of a high-strung filly, but as she’s gotten
older she’s learned to mature and deal with it a little better, or we
Owned by Lee Lewis, Baffle Me ran in three optional claiming allowances
at Gulfstream earlier this year, with a third, a second and a win, the
latter two each at one mile.
“We got her down here in time to acclimate for this,” Hennig said. “She
loves Gulfstream and Palm Meadows. I think Gulfstream is actually one
of her favorite turf courses. She’s pretty darn consistent. You can
count on her to show up when you bring her over there.”
Making her third start since being switched to turf by trainer Jimmy
Toner, Moment in Dixie ran second to Baffle Me in her grass debut in
September. Most recently, she was third in a stakes at Aqueduct behind a
pair of next-out winners in Deanaallen’skitten, who came back to wear
the $125,000 Claiming Crown Tiara at Gulfstream on Dec. 7, and Sally’s
Also in the field are multiple stakes winners Silverette and
Florida-bred Nikki Starshine, as well as Angel’s South, a winner of two
straight who is making her debut for new trainer Giuseppe Iadisernia.