Buckram Oak Farm's Last Song got the trip she needed to defeat odds-on favorite Society Selection by two lengths in Saturday's $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park.
Ridden by Edgar Prado, the daughter of Unbridled's Song
reached even terms with Society Selection and jockey Jerry Bailey on the far turn, dueled through the stretch and pulled away late. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile main track event was 1:50 3/5 on a fast surface.
Society Selection had finished a neck in front of Last Song for third in a four-horse blanket finish to the Davona Dale (gr. II) at Gulfstream on Feb. 7. To winning trainer Carl Nafzger, the reason was obvious.
"The difference between last time and today was experience and the outside post," he said. "In her last trip she was in tight and Prado never got a chance to ride her. Edgar got a clean trip breaking from the outside this time. We needed to go against the kind of horses that there was in the last race. I told her owner that if we don't go against these Breeders' Cup type horses and grade 1 type horses we're never going to beat them when we do eventually meet them. Today she had a better trip and made up about three to five lengths experience from her last race."
Last Song was away fourth in the five-horse field while racing three wide as Society Selection, the 1-2 choice, carved fractions of :23 2/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11 3/5. Last Song cruised up on the favorite's outside and proved to be the stronger of the two in the drive to the wire. Rare Gift, the 7-2 third choice ridden by Pat Day, ran evenly for third, 6 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
"Horses are like humans," Nafzger said. "They have to learn how to play. Except for the truly exceptional ones, they need to learn how to go out there and play the game. They need the experience of going against competition like Mr. Jerkens' filly (Society Selection)."
He said the $500,000 Ashland at Keeneland on April 3 is the next target for Last Song, whose first graded stakes win was worth $120,000. She has won three of seven lifetime with earnings of $188,330.
"The Ashland is the plan right now. I think she's an Oaks filly. That's the main objective. That's the day I hope to have her 110 percent."
Last Song paid $8.20, $2.60 and $2.10. Society Selection, winless in three starts since last year's Frizette (gr. I) at Belmont, returned $2.20 and $2.10. Rare Gift's show was $2.10.
Marina de Chavon and Journey Fever completed the order of finish.