Sprint Part of 23rd Claiming Crown Program Saturday at Gulfstream
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Since mid-May, all Pretty Rachel has done is win. Her new connections are hoping for more of the same when she goes after a seventh straight victory in the $80,000 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper at Gulfstream Park.
The one-mile Glass Slipper for fillies and mares 3 and up which have not started for a claiming price of $12,500 or less in 2020-21 is among nine starter stakes worth $810,000 in purses on the 23rd Claiming Crown program, being held at Gulfstream for the 10th consecutive year.
Created by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association in partnership with the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Claiming Crown rewards and pays tribute to the horses and horsemen that provide the foundation for day-to-day racing programs at tracks around the country.
Post time for the first of 11 races is noon.
A 3-year-old daughter of Dominus and granddaughter of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper, Pretty Rachel has won each of her last four races in front-running fashion. She was claimed for $6,250 out of her most recent effort, an eight-length triumph going the Glass Slipper distance Oct. 21 at Gulfstream.
“In her case, that was a no brainer of a claim. I think it was just a gamble on their part of if she was good enough for the Claiming Crown,” trainer Kent Sweezey said. “That’s going to be the biggest question for her, because she’s obviously in really good form right now. I’d like to hope that she’s in better form than we got her in; that’s what we try to do.”
Including Sweezey, Pretty Rachel has changed barns three times via the claim during her win streak which began May 20 sprinting five furlongs on the Gulfstream turf. She has been on dirt ever since with her last four races coming at a mile. Her victories have come by 24 ½ combined lengths.
“She’s actually breezed on the grass a couple times. I kind of like that. If they’re sound to be breezing out there, I think it’s nice to let a horse like her skip around there three-eighths on the grass,” Sweezey said. “She did that a couple times and it pricks their ears up a little bit. It’s something different for them. I think going in circles all the time, she’s young and she’s probably still feeling good about herself and getting out there on the grass is kind of a confidence builder, if anything else. I think it’s worked for her.”
Paco Lopez gets the riding assignment on Pretty Rachel from Post 9 in a field of 12 at 118 pounds, eight less than topweight Sweet Willemina.
“Pretty Rachel is doing really good. It’s just a matter of if she’s going to be good enough,” Sweezey said. “She could not be doing any better. This would be the time. She’s at home and some of these horses may have to ship or might not be in the best form. She’s on a serious roll right now, so we just try to stay out of her way.”
Richard Ciavardone and Home Team Stables’ Sweet Willemina had her win streak snapped at six races Nov. 3 at Parx, when she finished second to It’s So Easy as the heavy favorite in a one-mile, 70-yard starter optional claimer under regular rider Silvestre Gonzalez.
“I think he was a little too confident,” trainer Scott Lake said. “The horse got loose on the lead and she just couldn’t catch her. I expect her to come back with another big effort.”
Sweet Willemina launched her win streak after being claimed for $32,000 out of a sixth-place finish June 17 at Churchill Downs and joining Lake’s Parx string. She became a stakes winner during that stretch in an off-the-turf Salvatore M. Debunda PTHA President’s Cup Sept. 6, romping by seven lengths.
“She ran big that day,” Lake said. “When we claimed her, she was one of those kinds of horses with those lifetime conditions. When we come back here we have those starters at Parx and we just figured we’d get one and kind of go through those conditions, and she went way above and beyond that. Man, she’s been doing great.”
Sweet Willemina arrived in South Florida last weekend and was joined this week by Lake, a winner of 6,224 career races who ranks third all-time with eight Claiming Crown victories behind leader Mike Maker’s 18.
“She’s doing great. She shipped down well … and she’s trained well ever since she’s been there,” Lake said. “I just got off the phone with my groom and he said everything looked fine. She’s eating up and happy.”
Gonzalez will get a return call on Sweet Willemina from Post 7.
Also entered are 2020 Glass Slipper runner-up Don’t Get Khozy, Chez Paree, Dem a Wonder, Lavi, Let’s Be Honest, Our Fantasy, Papa’s Little Girl, Tiz Possible Dear, Trevess and Willoughby Gap.
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: Kent Sweezey (Gulfstream Park Photo)