Miss J McKay Sprints to $100,000 Abundantia Victor
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Repole Stable’s Always Shopping, without a victory in six straight starts, ended her 5-year-old season the way it began – on a winning note – with a determined nose triumph over Harajuku to defend her title in Friday’s $100,000 Via Borghese at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 3/8-mile Via Borghese for fillies and mares 3 and up was the second of three $100,000 turf stakes on the New Year’s Eve program, preceded by the Janus for 3-year-olds and up and followed by the Abundantia for females 3 and older, both sprinting five furlongs.
Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, Always Shopping ($7) completed the distance in 2:13.86 over a firm course to earn her eighth career victory, fourth in six tries on the Gulfstream turf and sixth against stakes company.
Breaking from the far outside in a field of nine as the narrow 5-2 favorite, Always Shopping raced in the clear two wide on the hip of Candy Flower, who broke alertly and set an easy pace. Always Shopping moved up to challenge for the lead once straightened for home while Harajuku continued a sustained run on the far outside. They pulled away from the field and dueled through the lane, with Always Shopping digging in again after losing the lead approaching the wire.
“I think [Harajuku] put a nose to a head in front of her, and she fought back. It was a determined effort,” Pletcher said. “I was so proud of her. She fought hard today. She got in a good stalking position from an outside post and stalked the pace. I thought they had her surrounded at the top of the stretch, but you could see her dig in and fight for the win.”
Harajuku was three lengths clear of Beautiful Lover in third. It was a neck back to Onyx, sent off at 111-1, who edged Hungry Kitten by a half-length for fourth.
Always Shopping passed the $600,000 mark in career purse earnings with the win, her first since the Jan. 23 La Prevoyante (G3). Other stakes victories have come in the 2019 Gazelle (G2) at Aqueduct and 2020 Monroe and Via Borghese at Gulfstream.
“She’s had a great career and she seems to really love Gulfstream. It’s great to see her come back,” Pletcher said. “I’ll talk to Mike [Repole] and see what the plan is. She’s probably going to be off to stud here at some point, but we might have time to run her one more time. We’ll see what Mike wants to do.”
Miss J McKay Sprints to $100,000 Abundantia Victory
Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, Tony Weintraub and Brandon Dalinka’s Miss J McKay overcame some traffic trouble at the top of the stretch to sweep past her rivals through the lane and capture Friday’s $100,000 Abundantia.
It was the second straight win for the 4-year-old Hangover Kid filly in three starts since joining trainer Christophe Clement earlier this summer, and her second career stakes win following the 2019 Anne Arundel County at Laurel Park.
The win also allowed jockey Tyler Gaffalione to sweep the two stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up, having previously won the $100,000 Via Borghese aboard Always Shopping for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Miss J McKay ($8.20) rated in mid-pack as 45-1 long shot Cat’s Astray was sent to the lead chased by Beautiful Grace. Gaffalione was able to split horses on the far turn and get in position, had to swing wide around Luis Saez and 7-5 favorite Miss Auramet straightening for home, and closed with a steady run to nail Drapes (14-1) nearing the wire. Strong Odor finished third while Miss Auramet wound up sixth.
The winning time was 55.86 seconds over a firm turf course.
“The filly broke well and the speed went on. It set up exactly as we thought it would. She settled nicely and coming into the stretch I was able to follow Luis out. Once she got clear run, she kicked it in nicely,” Gaffalione said. “We got fanned out a little bit, but she was much the best today.”
Gulfstream Park Press release
Photo: Always Shopping (Lauren King Photo)