Casse-Trained Fillies Set for Championship Meet Opener
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – D. J. Stable LLC’s Lemieux and Palmach will both seek to a make successful transition from Tapeta to turf in Friday’s $75,000 Wait a While at Gulfstream Park for a Hall of Fame trainer who knows a thing or two about surface switches.
Trained by Mark Casse, Lemieux and Palmach will both try to duplicate their recent respective dazzling front-running victories over Gulfstream’s newly installed Tapeta course in the Wait a While, a mile turf stakes for 2-year-old fillies that will co-headline Friday’s opening day of the 2021-2022 Championship Meet with the $75,000 Pulpit, a mile turf event for 2-year-olds.
Lemieux is the more seasoned and accomplished of the two fillies, but the daughter of Nyquist is scheduled to make her turf debut in her sixth career start.
“I think she can do a little bit of anything. She is by Nyquist out of a The Factor mare – that’s turf. Even the way she moves, I felt like she would like turf,” Casse said. “Her last start was on Tapeta, which she didn’t mind either. I think she’ll like the grass.”
Lemieux finished second in her first two career starts behind next-out winners before breaking through to graduate at Saratoga in an Aug. 21 off-the-turf maiden special weight race. The daughter of 2016 Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist finished far back on the Churchill Downs’ main track in the Pocahontas (G3) but rebounded with a dominating 6 ½-length front-running victory in a Gulfstream optional claiming allowance on Tapeta last time out.
“That was what I expected from her all along. I always felt she was on the A-Team from the beginning,” Casse said. “She ran well. She did break her maiden at Saratoga. Obviously, the race at Churchill was disappointing, but she rebounded in her last race and has trained well up to this race.”
Palmach came up short to finish fifth in his Sept. 10 career debut on Gulfstream’s turf but graduated on the Tapeta course next time out with a front-running four-length romp.
“We were disappointed in her first start, but she came back and ran so much better. She’s always trained well and showed a lot of ability,” Casse said. “I think she’ll probably like turf too.”
Both Lemieux and Palmach likely would have run on turf instead of Tapeta last time out, but Casse was more than happy to have the all-weather surface as a viable alterative while the turf course was undergoing renovation during the Fall Meet.
“I think, unfortunately, early on Tapeta was misrepresented and misunderstood. That’s unfortunate because, to me, it’s superior to any other surface,” said Casse, who has dominated the trainer standings for many years at Woodbine, where the main track is an all-weather surface. “I’ve said all along that horses weren’t bred to run on dirt. They were bred to run on the grass. Especially, here in the U.S., we can only run so many grass races because our grasses can’t hold up. Tapeta is the closest thing to grass.”
Edwin Gonzalez, who rode both fillies in their recent victories, will ride Lemieux, while Emisael Jaramillo has the call on Palmach.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Sister Lou Ann, who finished second in her off-the-turf debut at Gulfstream Sept 24, enters the Wait a While off a front-running 7 ½-length score at a mile and 70 yards on Tapeta in her second career start Oct. 20.
“We tried to get her on the turf, but it rained off. We gave her a shot. The number was slow, but she got second. We ran her on Tapeta, which was the closest thing to turf at the moment, and I thought she won convincingly,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “We’re hoping that when we get her on the turf, she’ll do equally as good or better.”
Edgard Zayas has the return mount aboard the homebred daughter of Frosted.
Monarch Stables Inc.’s Last Leaf, a stakes winner over the Gulfstream turf course, enters the Wait a While off a third-place finish after dueling for the early lead in an optional claiming allowance on Tapeta. In her previous start and turf debut, the Ron Spatz-trained daughter of Not This Time pressed the pace before winning by a neck in the $75,000 Hollywood Beach, beating the boys at five-furlongs on turf.
Miguel Vasquez has the return mount aboard the Kentucky-bred filly, who has also won twice on dirt at Gulfstream.
Stuart Janney III’s Gun Boat and Moyglare Stud Farm Ltd.’s Lia Marina are both slated to make their stakes debuts in the Wait a While while coming off maiden-breaking victories in New York.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will be represented by Gun Boat, a homebred daughter of War Front who broke through to graduate in her third career start in a six-furlong sprint on turf at Aqueduct Nov. 11. Julien Leparoux is scheduled to ride the Kentucky-bred filly for the first time Friday.
Trainer Christophe Clement-trained Lia Marina is coming off a hard-fought six-furlong maiden score on turf at Belmont Park in her second career start. Tyler Gaffalione has been named to ride the daughter of Uncle Mo for the first time in the Wait a While.
Qatar Racing’s Sunstrike, an Irish-bred daughter of Dark Angel, is scheduled to make her U.S. debut in the Wait a While. The Brendan Walsh-trained filly won one of six starts in England. Paco Lopez has the call.
Average Joe Racing Stables’ Myfavoritedaughter and DeLuca and Sons Stable’s High Arabian round out the field.
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: Lemieux (Lauren King Photo)