Photo: Lauren King
Alex G. Campbell’s Ultra Brat avoided trouble in Saturday’s $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream Park, parlaying a dream stalking trip into a 36-1 upset under Angel Cruz.
Making only her third start on turf in the 1 1/6-mile event for 3-year-old fillies, the Graham Motion-trained daughter of Uncle Mo gave Cruz his first victory and stakes triumph at Gulfstream Park by prevailing over a late-charging Shaan by a length.
“Graham told me not to send her because she would be rank, so I just let her break on her own and she settled really good for me down the backside,” said Cruz, who was based in the Mid-Atlantic region before venturing the Tampa Bay Downs this winter. “When I asked her, I had a lot of horse.”
Ultra Brat, who broke her maiden on dirt at Keeneland in her second career start in April, won the Christiecat Stakes at Belmont Park in her turf debut three starts back, before finishing ninth in the Pebbles Stakes and returning to dirt to finish fourth in the seven-furlong Safely Kept Stakes at Laurel Nov. 19. The homebred filly certainly appreciated a return to dirt and two turns Saturday.
“We’ve always liked her. She’s won a couple here and there. She’s just gotten stronger and stronger as the year went on,” said assistant trainer Alice Clapham, who addled Ultra Brat for Motion, who was at Santa Anita Saturday to saddle Apple Blossom in the American Oaks (G1).
Ultra Brat relaxed nicely while closely stocking pacesetter Gypsy Eyes before powering away to victory in the stretch, completing 1 1/16 miles on a firm course in 1:41.23. Shaan, making her U.S. debut under John Velazquez, enjoyed a ground saving trip behind the pace before surging along the rail to finish second, a nose ahead of Try Your Luck.
Cruz rode the Motion-trained Dancing Rags for a maiden victory at Laurel and a triumph the Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland during the fall, earning the trainer’s respect.
“That was my first horse that I rode for Graham, Dancing Rags. I rode a good race for him and he gave me more opportunities,” Cruz said. “I’ve done a good job and he’s been loyal to me, and it’s awesome to ride for a guy like Graham Motion.”
Paige Rides Rail for Upset in $75,000 Via Borghese: Jockey Paco Lopez rode the rail with Paige throughout the 1 3/16 miles of the $75,000 Via Borghese to pull off a 21-1 upset on one of three Christophe Clement-trained starters in a field 12 fillies and mares.
The 4-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa left alertly from the starting gate and crossed over to the rail from her outside post position as Dad’s Princess set a slow pace around the first turn and along the backstretch over a firm turf course. Still settled in third leaving the turn into the homestretch, Paige and Lopez had to wait patiently behind the tiring pacesetter before finally finding room in mid-stretch and storming to victory by a half-length over the Clement-trained Desiree Cleary, who finished a head in from of a late-driving Flipcup.
“Apparently the jockey said he was in big trouble turning for home, but I didn't see it. I saw a good trip on the rail and everything opened up at the right time,” Clement said.
Paige ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.23 to capture her first stakes victory in 15 career starts.
Paige is likely to return to action in the $200,000 La Prevoyante (G3) on the undercard of the $12 Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 28. Desiree Cleary is also being pointed to the 1 ½-mile La Prevoyante, while Trophee, who finished off the board, will be retired.
Source: Gulfstream Park