Win machine D' Wildcat Speed, making her first start in a route race in nearly a year, sped away from 3-5 favorite Isola Piu Bella at the top of the stretch and registered an easy six-length victory in the $200,000 Rampart Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
The 5-year-old Kentucky bred mare by Forest Wildcat
, a multiple group I winner in Puerto Rico, won for the 16th time in a 21-race career. The 1 1/8-mile Rampart, which she captured in a time of 1:48 4/5, was her first graded score in North America.
D' Wildcat Speed was beaten in her first career start, then won 14 straight in Puerto Rico before returning home to the U.S. last winter.
Ridden by Manoel Cruz, D' Wildcat Speed disposed of pace rival Pampered Princess coming off the far turn after leading through splits of :23 4/5, :47 1/5 and 1:10 2/5. Isola Piu Bella, who tracked the leaders for Eibar Coa, moved up on the outside and appeared to be poised to dispute the lead down the stretch. But D' Wildcat Speed was too much to overcome and Isola Piu Bella settled for a distant second-place finish, a half-length ahead of Pampered Princess.
"She fought me a little bit, but she settled down," Cruz said. "I got to the quarter pole and turned her loose, and, man, it was really nice when she took off. She's a really nice filly. She ran a big winning race."
The Chilean-bred Isola Piu Bella, a multiple group I winner in her native country, was coming off an impressive 2 1/2-length victory over Pampered Princess in Gulfstream's Sabin Handicap (gr. IIIT) Feb. 26 in her second U.S. start. She carried top weight of 118 pounds in the five-horse field, five pounds more than the winner.
"My filly didn't run a bad race. The winner was just so good today," Coa said. "I was moving up right where I wanted to and turning for home, when I figured the horses in front would stop, she didn't and just kicked away from me."
Trained by William White, D' Wildcat Speed was coming off a third-place finish for her 2005 debut in the seven-furlong Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. II) Feb. 19 at Gulfstream. She last ran in a route race April 4 when she finished second by 3 1/2 lengths to Nonesuch Bay in the 1 1/16-mile Banshee Breeze at Gulfstream.
"We haven't had a chance to run her at a distance here before because of soundness issues, but something happened today that helped show everybody exactly what she's all about," White said. "We were a little concerned that she hold her position on the first turn, so we told Manoel to use her speed into the first turn and see how the race sets up.
"I think after the way she ran today, we can start looking to plan a campaign for her on a national scale."
Saturday, she broke evenly on the inside with Pampered Princess and wrested the lead after a quarter-mile. The two bumped briefly on the backstretch before D' Wildcat Speed made the lead.
The $120,000 winner's share pushed her career earnings to $522,755 for owner P R Speed Inc. Establo P R Speed bred her.
"I feel really great," said co-owner Manuel Rxach. "We brought her from Puerto Rico, but she was unruly there and hard to train. Bill White fixed her and I give him 100 percent credit."
The second choice, she paid $7.80, $3 and $2.10. Isola piu Bella returned $2.40 and $2.10. Pampered Princess was $2.10 to show.
India Halo edged My Dear Lady by a head for fourth.