Dance d’Oro makes Front-Running Victory in Rampart

December 19, 2021

Center Aisle turns the tables on Frank’s Rockette in Sugar Swirl Stakes

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Dance d’Oro scored her first stakes victory Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $100,000 Rampart, leading throughout in a non-threatening victory over Don’t Get Khozy.

Winning jockey Emisael Jaramillo rode the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro through comfortable early fractions in the one-mile stakes, leaving the filly with plenty of reserve in the stretch to register a two-length victory.

“We were comfortable in the front, good pace,” Jaramillo said. “When I asked her for run, she ran easy, because the first part of the race was easy for her.”

Dance d’Oro, trained by Ralph Nicks for owner Whisper Hill Farm LLC, was making her stakes debut in what was her 11th career race. Following a three-month layoff, the filly romped to a 9 1/4 length victory in a September 24 optional claiming race at Gulfstream, followed by a third-place effort in a handicap on Nov. 21.

“Her first race back was amazing, and maybe she bounced a little bit because she ran so hard,” Nicks said. “Today was another huge effort.”

Dance d’Oro raced to the front up the backstretch, followed by a non-menacing Gran Baby, and opened up on the field when she led the six-horse field into the stretch. Don’t Get Khozy made a late run but was no match for the winner. Allworthy, the 8-5 favorite, ducked in at the start out of the chute and finished third, 2 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up.

“It has to be maturity,” Nicks said of the filly’s improvement. “She’s always had talent, but it was hit and miss. She’s getting little more consistent.”

Nicks said he would likely keep Dance d’Oro in South Florida throughout Gulfstream’s winter Championship Meet before making a decision on upcoming races.

“We’ll stay here through the winter and see from there,” Nicks said.

Center Aisle turns the tables on Frank’s Rockette in Sugar Swirl Stakes

Center Aisle (Lauren King)

Center Aisle was no match for Frank’s Rockette the first two times they hooked up on the track.

Not so Saturday at Gulfstream Park, when Center Aisle engaged her nemesis in the stretch and drew off for a one-length victory in the $100,000 Sugar Swirl Stakes (Gr. III).

“She did it pretty impressively,” said winning jockey Luis Saez.

The connections for Center Aisle always had high hopes for the filly after she broke her maiden convincingly on her first try at Gulfstream in March, 2020. But four straight defeats followed, including a pair of third-place finishes that same year to Frank’s Rockette in the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont and Prioress (G2) at Saratoga. It was then that owner OXO Equine LLC decided to turn her out for a year.

She has returned in grand fashion for trainer Paulo Lobo, winning a pair of tune-up races before Saturday’s victory in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl.

“She was coming into the race ready from two very nice races,” Lobo said.

With Frank’s Rockette involved in a front-running duel with three other members of the eight-horse field, Saez guided Center Aisle outside into a stalking position before ranging up alongside Frank’s Rockette in the upper stretch.

“The other filly was running pretty fast,” Saez said. “But I had a lot of horse, and when we came to the top of the stretch, she gave me another kick. We knew we had a horse with fight, and she did it.”

Lobo said he was never concerned when Center Aisle and Frank’s Rockette dueled for several strides.

“I felt good because the body language of Saez, she looked very comfortable,” Lobo said.

Bronx Beauty was third, five lengths behind Frank’s Rockette.

Lobo said the plan is to send Center Aisle back to Kentucky for a freshening before returning her to South Florida for the seven-furlong $200,000 Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream on Jan. 29.

Gulfstream Park Press Release
Top Photo: Dance d’Oro (Lauren King)


@jonathanstettin #2 Ettalusive ran big to finish 2nd in Gulf Stream 3rd 16-1

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