Edited from track notes
"Small but select" perfectly describes the field for Friday's $100,000 Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. III) as five stakes winners and a social climber converge in the Valentine's Day feature for fillies and mares at seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park.
Gold Mover and Nonsuch Bay will be the starting highweights at 117 pounds in the 25th running of the Shirley Jones, which goes as the ninth event on a 10-race card. They will give one pound to Forest Heiress, two to Away, three to Harmony Lodge, and four to Preferred Option, the only non-stakes winner in the field.
Edward P. Evans' Gold Mover and Joseph Platt Jr.'s Nonsuch Bay sport solid Gulfstream credentials.
The 5-year-old Gold Mover has won four of five Gulfstream starts--three of them stakes--and her only loss was a second in the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) of 2001. The 4-year-old Nonsuch Bay has won two of three, and her only loss was a second in the Bonnie Miss (gr. II) last year.
Mark Hennig trains Gold Mover, a daughter of Gold Fever who has won 11 of 25 lifetime starts and went over the $1 million mark in lifetime earnings last out when she won the Safely Kept Handicap at Arlington last Oct. 26. Her most recent Gulfstream start came last March 17, when she won the Hurricane Bertie Stakes. Gold Mover has three wins and three seconds in seven starts at seven furlongs, and will likely be the favorite Friday with Jerry Bailey, Gulfstream's all-time top stakes-winning jockey, in the irons.
The first time Bailey rode the mare, in the grade II Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder last July, Gold Mover beat champion filly Xtra Heat.
Nonsuch Bay, trained by Frank Alexander, drew a lot of attention here last year when she took her career debut by more than four lengths and came back to win an allowance race. Alexander tried to stretch her out in the mile and an eighth Bonnie Miss, and Nonsuch Bay ran a big race to be second behind Dust Me Off.
The daughter of Mr. Greeley won the Nassau County Stakes (gr. II) sprinting last spring, then stretched out to nine furlongs to win the grade I Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont. Nonsuch Bay has not started since running second in the Pebbles Handicap last Oct. 14 at Belmont. She has been working steadily at Gulfstream for nearly two months, and Jorge Chavez will be in the irons.
Bill Mott will saddle Forest Heiress, a 4-year-old daughter of Forest Wildcat who won the grade III Sorority Stakes and grade III Valley Stream Stakes as a 2-year-old trained by Ben Perkins Jr. Mott took over training the bay filly late last year, when Forest Heiress won two of three starts. In her seasonal debut, the First Lady Handicap (gr. III) here on Jan. 12, she tired to be fifth behind Harmony Lodge. Pat Day, who won a race on her last year, gets the call.
Harmony Lodge, a 5-year-old mare trained by Todd Pletcher, comes off a strong victory in the six-furlong First Lady. The daughter of Hennessy has done very well at three-quarters in the past, but has yet to win at seven furlongs. She was fifth behind Gold Mover in the Safely Kept last season. John Velazquez gets the riding call again.
Trainer John Kimmel is hoping a return to Gulfstream will help Away get back on the winning track. The 6-year-old mare by Dixieland Band scored her most recent victory over the main track here, taking an allowance race last March 4. That race, and a victory in the Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay last January, were the high points of her 2002 season.
Away makes her first start since she ran third behind Chispiski in the grade III Chaposa Springs Handicap at Calder last Dec. 7. Edgar Prado will ride.
Preferred Option, trained by Hall of Famer H. Allen Jerkens, is the only non-stakes winner in the field. The 4-year-old daughter of Belong to Me was fourth in the First Lady in her seasonal debut, then ran third in an allowance event last out. However, she should like seven furlongs, a distance at which she's won before. Jose Santos, who has won on her before, gets the riding call.
The field for the $100,000 seven-furlong Shirley Jones, from the rail out with jockey and weight:
1--Gold Mover, Jerry Bailey, 117
2--Harmony Lodge, John Velazquez, 114
3--Preferred Option, Jose Santos, 113
4--Nonsuch Bay, Jorge Chavez, 117
5--Away, Edgar Prado, 115
6--Forest Heiress, Pat Day, 116