Gambling Girl Headed to Churchill Downs for G1 Kentucky Oaks

April 16, 2023

Gambling Girl captures the Joseph A. Gimma Sep. 23, 2022 (Chelsea Durand)

Carter Runner-up Expressman to Target G3 Westchester

Dynamic One Pointing Towards Summer Campaign at Saratoga

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, who will saddle Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s formidable multiple Grade 1-winner Forte in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 6, will also bring a strong contender for Repole Stable to the May 5 Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in the New York-bred Gambling Girl.

The entries of Gambling Girl in the Oaks and the trio of the reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte, Grade 1 Blue Grass-winner Tapit Trice, and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby-winner Kingsbarns in the Run for the Roses will give Pletcher a chance to become the first trainer since Ben Jones [1952] to saddle both the Derby and Oaks winner in the same year.

Bred by Gallagher’s Stud, the multiple graded stakes-placed Gambling Girl finished second in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Gazelle on April 8 at Aqueduct Racetrack, awarding her 40 points towards the Kentucky Oaks and guaranteeing her a spot in the starting gate.

She added to the 21 points she earned for on-the-board efforts here in the Grade 2 Demoiselle and Busanda and a fourth in the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park. Jockey Jose Ortiz engineered a rallying trip in the Gazelle, guiding the Dialed In bay from 4 1/2 lengths off the pace to show a strong turn-of-foot and finish a half-length back of the victorious longshot Promiseher America.

Pletcher said Gambling Girl will head to Churchill Downs to make her final preparations for the Oaks.

“She’s shipping to Louisville today and we’re pointing to the Oaks,” said Pletcher. “She always tries hard and I thought we had dead aim at the winner, but we just couldn’t quite get there. It was another good effort from her.”

Later on the April 8 card, Pletcher sent out maidens Dreamlike and Crupi, as well as two-time winner Classic Catch, in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino. Dreamlike, who has finished on-the-board in all three of his career starts, finished a gutsy third in a three-way photo finish after stalking the pace and holding a slim lead at the top of the stretch. Classic Catch closed from 11th-of-12 to finish a game fifth, while Crupi raced in last down the backstretch and made a mild bid around the turn to finish ninth.

Pletcher said all three horses emerged from their efforts in good order.

“Everyone came back well,” said Pletcher. “I thought Dreamlike, for being a maiden and a lightly-raced horse, ran great. It got pretty rough in the last part and I’m not sure how much that compromised him, but I thought it was a good effort. Classic Catch I thought closed the best of any horse in the race – unfortunately, he just had a little too much to do turning for home. We’ll regroup with Crupi and hopefully we’ll see him get to his best this summer and fall.”

Pletcher added that St. Elias Stable’s Expressman, who finished a close third in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets, could aim for the Grade 3, $175,000 Westchester traveling a one-turn mile on May 5 at Belmont.

The son of Liam’s Map had a bumpy trip in the Carter and steadied at the half-mile pole before finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Doppelganger.

“He’s possible for the Westchester and he gave a good, solid effort in the Carter,” said Pletcher.

Pletcher’s Belmont barn recently welcomed back Grade 2 Suburban-winner Dynamic One, who has worked twice over the synthetic at Fair Hill in March and has not raced since an even sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in September at Saratoga Race Course. Pletcher said the son of Union Rags has settled back in to New York well and will be pointed towards a summer campaign at Saratoga.

“He’s doing fine and hopefully we’ll have him ready for Saratoga,” said Pletcher. “We don’t have a spot in mind yet. He’s been breezing three-eighths, so we’ve got a bit of work to do.”

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