Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
Repole Stable’s 4-year-old filly Stopshoppingmaria, who has won a pair
of condition allowance races at five furlongs on turf at the Gulfstream
Park meet for leading trainer Todd Pletcher, will likely be favored to
make it three straight victories with jockey John Velazquez aboard in a
field of nine fillies and mares drawn for Sunday’s $60,000 Ladies Turf
Sprint over the course and distance.
Stopshoppingmaria has been very consistent and versatile, breaking
her maiden by 9 ¾ lengths on the main track at Saratoga as a 2-year-old
and comes into Sunday’s race with an 8-3-3-1 record, her only
off-the-board finish a close-up fifth as the odds-on choice in a turf
sprint allowance at Saratoga last summer.
Preferred Pals Stable and The Mirage Ranch’s 4-year-old filly Double
the Energy also has won a pair of five-furlong turf allowance dashes in
her last two starts over the Gulfstream course and distance for trainer
Linda Rice and will get plenty of support Sunday with jockey Joe Rocco,
Jr. getting the return call.
A roan/gray New York-bred daughter of Unbridled Energy, Double the
Energy has won three of four starts for Rice after being claimed for
$50,000 at Saratoga in mid-August. She has won seven of 14 career starts
overall and found her best stride on turf winning four of five.
“She’s done very well for us and loves the grass,” said Rice from
Belmont Park where she has her main division with Double Energy leading
the winter string at Gulfstream. “She is a New York-bred which gives us a
little insurance if she was to struggle in open company but, so far,
that’s not the case and she’s won against some good fillies. We know
this race will be tough, but she’s earned a chance.”
Green Mills Farm’s 4-year-old filly Brilliant Katie will attract
solid support after a sharp 1 ¾ lengths condition allowance victory of
the course and distance of Sunday’s race on Jan. 31 for trainer Michael
Matz. The daughter of Gone West ran another big race when rallying for
third, beaten a neck for it all in a similar race on Jan. 9. Jockey Joel
Rosario will have the mount.
Brilliant Katie broke her maiden on Polytrack at Keeneland in her
third start last spring, but didn’t appear to care for turf when fifth
in the Crank It Up Stakes in early June at Monmouth Park in her turf
debut. However, after three more tries on dirt and Polytrack at Saratoga
and Keeneland, she hit her best stride with the two good races here.
Trainer Eduardo Caramori sends out his wife Ligia’s 6-year-old mare
Queen’s Award with jockey Alan Garcia aboard in her first start since an
eighth-place finish in the Lightning City Stakes going five furlongs on
turf at Tampa Bay Downs, a good effort considering she was beaten only 1
½ lengths for it all in a wild finish.
“She comes from behind and five-eighths is a little short for her,”
said Caramori from Palm Meadows. “To have a chance at five-eighths she
has to have a fast pace up front and room to run. In that last race she
had no room, but ran well. We have some options with her for the future.
She showed she liked the Polytrack at Keeneland.”
A daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, Queen’s Award made her previous three
starts before the Lightning City on Polytrack, winning an allowance and
finishing second in another at Keeneland in October before losing a neck
decision in the Holiday Inaugural at Turfway Park on Dec. 1 before
shipping south for the winter.
Martin Schwartz’ 5-year-old French-bred mare Whipsaw City deserves
respect after rallying for third behind Double the Energy last out in
the Jan. 27 allowance, beaten only three-quarters of a length as the
favorite. The daughter of Elusive City is trained by Chad Brown, who
guided Schwartz’ top-class mare Zagora through an Eclipse Award campaign
last year. Jockey Javier Castellano will ride.
Whipsaw City won two races over the Gulfstream course early last
year going a mile and placed in a pair of overnight stakes going seven
furlongs at Belmont later in the season. In one start here this winter
before the Jan. 27 allowance she finished ninth in the 7 ½-furlong South
Beach Stakes in early December, although beaten only 2 ¾ lengths for it
all by Romacaca.
Completing the field for the Ladies Turf Sprint are James Miller’s
Honey Chile, Jeffrey Sanchez; William Schettine’s Rose Salvaje, Luis
Saez; Polivka Equine Holdings’ Trippin’ Along, Jermaine Bridgmohan; and
Cudney Stables and John Gunther’s Klondike Kate, Joe Bravo.