Credit: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
Florida-Bred Sprint Tops Three Stakes Worth $250,000 Saturday, May 16
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – William Stiritz’s Wildwood’s Beauty, runner-up in three consecutive races including back-to-back graded-stakes during the Championship Meet, hopes to find the cure for her recent second-itis in Saturday’s $100,000 Musical Romance at Gulfstream Park.
The seven-furlong Musical Romance for Florida-bred fillies and mares 3 and up is the richest of three stakes worth $250,000 on an 11-race program, joined by the $75,000 Powder Break for females on turf featuring Grade 1-winning millionaire Got Stormy and $75,000 Roar for 3-year-olds sprinting 6 ½ furlongs.
First race post time is 12:45 p.m.
Named for the champion female sprinter of 2011 that won 12 of 41 career races and more than $1.6 million in purse earnings from 2009-12, the Musical Romance marks a return to state-bred company for Wildwood’s Beauty. She was beaten a total of 5 ¾ lengths by multiple graded winners Pink Sands and Sally’s Curlin respectively in the Jan. 25 Inside Information (G2) and March 14 Hurricane Bertie (G3) at Gulfstream.
Unable to hold off either winner while making her own typical late move, Wildwood’s Beauty has pleased trainer Scott Becker with three works over Gulfstream’s main track since the Hurricane Bertie.
“Everything’s been right on par, as it has been all year. She hasn’t missed a beat. Everything’s good and she’s doing great,” Becker said. “She ran her race the last couple times and made her normal move, but she just got beat by a couple of very nice horses. Both of those horses came from the back of the pack to win those races, which doesn’t happen all the time there, but she ran big both times.”
Such consistency has been Wildwood’s Beauty’s calling card, with five wins and seven seconds from 13 lifetime starts. Six of those runner-up finishes have come at Gulfstream, where the 4-year-old Kantharos filly beat older horses in last fall’s seven-furlong Sheer Drama for her lone triumph in eight tries over the surface.
“She’s the kind of horse where we’re lucky,” Becker said. “We’re able to find a spot and put her in, and she shows up.”
All five of her wins have come against Florida-breds, four in stakes, including the Millions Distaff Preview in November at Gulfstream Park West, her most recent victory. In between that and her graded efforts, Wildwood’s Beauty was second in the FSS City of Ocala Dec. 14 at Tampa Bay Downs to J P’s Delight, who also returns in the Musical Romance.
“We were looking at going to a couple of other graded races before everything got shut down, but I’m happy to be able to run here again now, at a distance and track where she’s run well before,” Becker said. “There’s some good ones in there, and they’re capable of running well in open company, too.”
Two-time defending Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. will get a leg up on Wildwood’s Beauty for the first time from Post 3 in a field of nine at co-topweight of 124 pounds.
“She’s always had a little bit of ability before she ever run. She was a little quirky filly when she was young so it took her a little longer to run as a 2-year-old,” Becker said. “We didn’t run her until the Gulfstream West meet late in her 2-year-old year, but after that everything has come together. She’s trained well and has grown up.”
Mathis Stable’s Grade 3 winner Bellera has displayed similar consistency, with four wins and two seconds from seven starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, including a runner-up finish in her debut last May against older horses – her lone previous try at Gulfstream.
The seven-furlong sprint was also the last time 4-year-old Bellera has run shorter than 1 1/16 miles. Her only time off the board came in her stakes debut, the Turnback the Alarm (G3) last fall at Aqueduct, where she lost rider Jose Lezcano after getting squeezed at the start.
“She’s a filly that we feel is probably best at two turns, a mile and an eighth, but being a Florida-bred we figured with limited opportunities this was our best option,” Pletcher said. “We figured we’d give it a try and see what she can do.”
Bellera has put together a two-race win streak, but hasn’t been out since a three-quarter-length victory in the Jan. 19 Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct. She capped her sophomore season with a 1 ¾-length triumph over previous undefeated Arrifana in the Nov. 29 Comely (G3). Both races came at 1 1/8 miles.
Luis Saez will ride Bellera, carrying 124 pounds, from Post 2.
“I like the way she’s training. She’s coming into the race in good order, we just hope that seven furlongs isn’t too short for her,” Pletcher said. “We shortened up her last couple works and tried to put some kind of sharp half-miles into her and I like the way she’s coming into it. She’s certainly training like she’s ready to go.”
Hall of Fame-elect trainer Mark Casse, who entered Got Stormy in the Powder Break, will send out Two Sixty and Oceans of Love in the Musical Romance. Live Oak Plantation homebred Oceans of Love has not started in six months but takes a two-race win streak into her season and stakes debut.
Gary Barber’s Two Sixty has raced twice this year, both in Tampa, winning the seven-furlong Gasparilla Stakes and finishing fifth in the one-mile, 40-yard Suncoast, the latter Feb. 8. The 3-year-old daughter of Uncaptured is two-for-four at Gulfstream, breaking her maiden at first asking last July and springing a front-running 6 ¼-length upset of the FSS My Dear Girl in September before a failed attempt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Averill Racing and Matties Racing Stable’s 6-year-old Lady’s Island has finished third or better in 22 of 29 career starts, 15 of them wins, including six of 11 at Gulfstream. Second behind Stormy Embrace in last year’s Musical Romance, her only other try at the distance, the speedy Lady’s Island owns four lifetime stakes wins topped by the Sugar Swirl (G3) in December. She has won two straight, both in Tampa, the most recent an April 19 starter optional claimer.
Also entered are 2019 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper winner Liza Star; 2018 and 2019 Millions Filly & Mare Turf Preview winner Picara; and multiple stakes winner Starship Bonita, making just her second start since finishing fifth in last year’s Musical Romance.
Gulfstream Park Press Release