Trainer Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand in the $150,000 Orchid Handicap (gr. IIIT) for older fillies and mares on turf Saturday at Gulfstream Park, sending out Almonsoon and Safari Queen.
The Orchid Handicap at 12 furlongs is the companion event to the Pan American Handicap (gr. IIIT) Saturday and drew a field of seven grass distaffers.
Both of Pletcher's runners figure to take quite a bit of action, with Arindel Farm’s 5-year-old Argentine-bred mare Safari Queen, the 117-pound high weight, the morning line choice at 8-5.
A chestnut daughter of Lode, Safari Queen won the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIT) on turf at Aqueduct in early November and the off-the-turf La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. II) over a ‘sloppy’ main track at Calder in December, both races contested at the 12-furlong distance. She comes off a very good effort when second in The Very One Handicap (gr. IIT) over the course at 11 furlongs on Feb. 25. Chris DeCarlo is aboard.
Pletcher also starts Allen Paulson Living Trust’s 4-year-old homebred Almonsoon with Rafael Bejarano riding.
Almonsoon is a chestnut daughter of Giant’s Causeway making her stakes debut in the Orchid. She showed she should be ready for the step up after a commanding 3 1/4-length allowance victory over the Gulfstream course and distance on March 1.
Completing the field for the Orchid are Gary Zwerling’s La Dolce Vita, Robert Barnett’s Time On, Patricia Moseley’s Archstone, Susan and Dan Wigginton’s Moon Berry and Literary Lion Farm’s Bea Plus.
$150,000 Orchid Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 7, 3:14 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Moon Berry (BRZ), Manoel R. Cruz, 114, 12/1
2. Safari Queen (ARG), Christopher P. DeCarlo, 117, 8/5
3. Bea Plus (KY), Joe Bravo, 112, 15/1
4. Almonsoon (KY), Rafael Bejarano, 113, 5/1
5. La Dolce Vita (KY), Javier Castellano, 114, 6/1
6. Time On (GB), Edgar S. Prado, 116, 9/5
7. Archstone (KY), Ramon A. Dominguez, 112, 10/1