Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) tops Florida Derby (G1) undercard

March 17, 2021

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Grade 1 winner Simply Ravishing and a trio of graded-stakes winners from trainer Todd Pletcher – Con Lima, Malathaat and Zaajel – are among 21 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) Saturday, March 27 at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Oaks tops nine supporting stakes, five graded, worth $1.1 million in purses on the undercard of the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa, which has produced the winners of 60 Triple Crown races in 69 previous runnings.

A total of 170 Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points will be up for grabs in the 50th Gulfstream Park Oaks on a 100-40-20-10 basis. The 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks is April 30 at Churchill Downs.

Last year’s Gulfstream Park Oaks winner, Swiss Skydiver, went on to become only the sixth filly ever to beat males – including Kentucky Derby (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and eventual Horse of the Year Authentic – in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and was named the 3-year-old filly champion.

Like Swiss Skydiver, Harold Lerner, Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stablels’ Simply Ravishing is trained by Kenny McPeek. The bay daughter of Laoban has yet to make her 3-year-old debut, having run fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Golden Rod (G2) to cap her juvenile campaign.

Simply Ravishing won each of her first three career starts, a maiden special weight on grass and an off-the-turf P.G. Johnson, both at Saratoga, before her front-running triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Alcibiades last October at Keeneland. She has been working steadily at Gulfstream Park for her return, including a bullet half-mile in 46.53 seconds March 6, fastest of 94 horses.

Pletcher, the Championship Meet’s record 16-time leading trainer, is nominated for induction to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2021. He is a four-time winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks, with Devil May Care (2010), R Heat Lightning (2011), Dreaming of Julia (2013) and In Tune (2014).

Shadwell Stables homebreds Malathaat and Zaajel are both undefeated in their young careers. Malathaat, by Hall of Famer Curlin, is a perfect 3-0 including wins in the Tempted and Demoiselle (G2) and has yet to race in 2021. Zaajel, a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, broke her maiden Dec. 20 at Gulfstream and returned to capture the Forward Gal (G3) Jan. 30 in her only two starts.

Con Lima was second to Simply Ravishing in the P.G. Johnson and has raced exclusively on turf in her last four starts including wins in the Ginger Brew and Feb. 27 Herecomesthebride (G3), the latter by disqualification of first-place finisher Spanish Loveaffair.

Sabana Farm’s Wholebodemeister, trained by Juan Carlos Avila, upset the one-mile Davona Dale Feb. 27 at Gulfstream at odds of 52-1. She was third, beaten less than two lengths by Zaajel, in the Forward Gal.

Oaks nominees also include Glitter Woman winner Competitive Speed, third in the Davona Dale; Demoiselle runner-up Millefeuille, a troubled seventh in the Davona Dale, and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott stablemate Obligatory, a Gulfstream maiden special weight winner Feb. 7; and last-out Gulfstream winners Army Wife, Bow Bow Girl, Mona Stella, Pass the Champagne and Slumber Party.

Bow Bow Girl and Len Lo Lady, a runaway maiden claiming winner at Gulfstream that ran third to Army Wife last time out, are trained by three-time Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Dale Romans. His victories came with Birdatthewire (2015), Go Maggie Go (2016) and Coach Rocks (2018).

The richest of six turf stakes on the Florida Derby undercard is the $200,000 Pan American (G2) presented by Rood & Riddle, for 4-year-olds and up going 1 ½ miles, whose 22 nominees include defending champion Bemma’s Boy and 2017 winner Sadler’s Joy, along with Colonel Liam and Cross Border, respectively first and third in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) Jan. 23; Feb. 27 Mac Diarmida (G2) winner Phantom Currency and W.L. McKnight (G3) winner Tale of the Sea, second in the Mac Diarmida.

Two other graded-stakes are also scheduled for the turf – the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Appleton (G3) for 4-year-olds and up going one mile, and $100,000 Orchid for fillies and mares 4 and older at 1 3/8 miles. The Appleton attracted 28 nominees including Colonel Liam and graded-stakes winners Field Pass, Get Smokin and Somelikeithotbrown.

Repole Stable’s Always Shopping, a head shy of four consecutive victories with back-to-back Gulfstream stakes scores including the Jan. 23 La Prevoyante (G3), tops 15 Orchid nominees. Among others are La Prevoyante runner-up Delta’s Kingdom, 2020 Ginger Punch winner Kelsey’s Cross and 2020 Valley View (G3) winner Stunning Sky.

The $100,000 Ghostzapper (G3), formerly the Hal’s Hope, rounds out the graded-stakes portion of the undercard. Nominees for the 1 1/8-mile test for 4-year-olds and up include Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) winner Fearless and runner-up Avant Garde; Eye of the Jedi, second in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and Fred Hooper (G3) this winter; March 6 Challenger (G3) winner Last Judgment and Mike Maker-trained stablemate Attachment Rate, a Gulfstream allowance winner Feb. 27 that ran 14th in the 2020 Kentucky Derby; 2020 Risen Star (G2) winner Modernist and War Stopper, respectively 2-3 in the Challenger.

Grade 1 winners Basin and Mind Control and Grade 1-placed Lexitonian and Ny Traffic are among nominees to the $100,000 Sir Shackleton for 4-year-olds and up sprinting seven furlongs. Last year’s Sir Shackleton winner, Vekoma, went on to take the Carter (G1) and Met Mile (G1) and was among the three finalists for champion sprinter honors, won by Whitmore.

The $100,000 Sand Springs for fillies and mares 4 and up going 1 1/16 miles on turf drew 21 nominees led by Grade 1 winners Abscond and Paris Lights. Sophomores will go one mile on the grass in the $100,000 Sanibel Island for fillies and $100,000 Cutler Bay, which attracted a total of 48 nominations.

Gulfstream Park Press Release

Photo: Con Lima, Ryan Thompson (Coglianese)

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