Save for a fourth-place
finish in her debut in a sprint race against Pennsylvania-bred maidens
last fall, King of Prussia Stable’s Princess of Sylmar
In four subsequent starts, all victories, the daughter of Majestic
Warrior has crossed the finish line a minimum of 5 ¼ lengths in front of
her next closest opponent and a maximum of 19 lengths.
On Saturday, trainer
Todd Pletcher will find out just how good Princess of Sylmar is, and
whether she is good enough to run in the Kentucky Oaks, when she squares
off against five other 3-year-old fillies in
the Grade 2, $250,000 Gazelle, a 1 1/8-mile race at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Gazelle is one of
five graded stakes on a sensational Aqueduct race card, along with the
Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian, the Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Shore, the Grade 1,
$400,000 Carter Handicap and the Grade 1,
$1 million Wood Memorial.
Previously run in
November, the Gazelle now plays a pivotal role as a test for the
Kentucky Oaks and is worth 100 points to the winner in the new
In each of her three
starts on the inner dirt this past winter at Aqueduct, Princess of
Sylmar tracked the frontrunner in third and then assumed complete
command in the stretch. She crushed her foes in the Busanda
on January 5 and the Busher on February 2, setting her up for her first
“We’ve seen the past
couple weeks it’s a very good year for 3-year-old fillies,” said
Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy. “She’s the best in her class up
at the moment. She’s done everything right, everything we’ve asked her.
She’s closed into soft fractions, and she’s tractable. There’s not much
she can’t do. It’s nice to know we haven’t
gotten to the bottom of her. It’s a big step up going from the inner
dirt track to the outer, though.”
McCarthy said a win or second-place finish in the Gazelle likely would punch Princess of Sylmar’s ticket to
Kentucky. “We’re going over with confidence,” he said.
Princess of Sylmar, the 9-5 morning-line second choice, will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post position 6.
The primary competition
could come from Sagamore Farm’s homebred Walkwithapurpose, who has been
doing to the fillies at Laurel Park what Princess of Sylmar has been
doing at Aqueduct.
After dropping her
debut at Timonium last summer, the daughter of Candy Ride is unbeaten in
five starts, including victories in the Maryland Juvenile Filly
Championship, the Wide Country and the Caesar’s Wish
stakes. She also has class in her pedigree, directly descending from
the same female family as Schossberg, winner of the 1993 Grade 1 Jerome
While her Beyer Speed
Figures have improved in all but one of her starts, the Ignacio “Nacho”
Correas-trained Walkwithapurpose has never run around two turns.
“I seriously don’t
think the distance will be an issue, but who knows?” Correas said. “She
does everything very easy. It’s a reasonable step up to go to the
Gazelle. After that, we’ll get our heads together and
figure it out. We are going over because we are optimistic she can
handle that. We don’t know where her ceiling is.”
Correas said that in
her lone defeat, Walkwithapurpose was equipped with full-cup blinkers,
and that jockey Jeremy Rose returned saying the filly was “kind of lost
and waiting for company.” With a different set
of blinkers, she has won her past three races by a combined 22 ¼
“In company, in the
morning, whatever you put with her, she’ll crush them,” Correas said.
“She loves to be challenged. I think she’s a fighter. I’m a believer in
Jeremy Rose has the return call aboard Walkwithapurpose, tabbed at 3-1 on the morning line.
Let Me Entertain U,
owned and bred by Elizabeth Valando, finished third behind Princess of
Sylmar in the Busher and rebounded to win the Beru overnight stakes on
the inner track on March 3. In that victory, she
defeated Kelli Got Frosty, who was second in the Busher.
“We’re optimistic she
can run here,” said trainer Tom Albertrani of the daughter of Nobiz Like
Shobiz, who won the Remsen and Wood Memorial for Valando at Aqueduct.
“She’s still maturing. She was a little green
and kind of wandering when she made the lead.”
Let Me Entertain U lost
a race at Aqueduct last September at odds of 125-1 and came back to
break her maiden by six lengths in her next start.
“It was a nice surprise,” Albertrani said. “She had two big losses and then
boom! I can still see some improvement coming up.”
Hall of Fame trainer
Bill Mott entered two uncoupled runners in the Gazelle, Juddmonte Farms’
Close Hatches, who is undefeated in two starts at Gulfstream Park and
was made the 8-5 morning line favorite, and
Watrugonnadorosie, a $700,000 daughter of champion Curlin who was a
troubled third in her most recent start in an allowance race at
Rounding out the field is Red Hot Tweet, a supplemental entry for trainer Graham Motion, who has been racing at Laurel Park.