Breaking through at the end of 2016 to earn her first graded stakes victory, StarLadies Racing and Lisa Troutt's Eskenformoney will aim to duplicate that form when she makes her seasonal debut in the $200,000 Royal Delta Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 18.
The 5-year-old daughter of Eskendereya is scheduled to take on five rivals in the 1 1/16-mile stakes for fillies and mares that is named for the three-time Eclipse Award winner who died from foaling complications last week. Royal Delta, a two-time Breeders' Cup winner and three-time Eclipse Award champion, won the race formerly known as the Sabin by five lengths in 2013.
Eskenformoney was graded stakes-placed on five occasions before taking a the one-mile Rampart Stakes (G3) by three-quarters of a length over fellow Royal Delta entrant Curlin's Approval Dec. 17. The Todd Pletcher-trained mare has not finished worse than third in five starts over the Gulfstream surface, including breaking her maiden in her sixth start by 9 3/4 lengths in December of 2014.
"She likes Gulfstream and she generally has run well here," Pletcher said. "She's always been sort of a thin filly and the older she has gotten, the stronger she has gotten, and (she) is holding her weight much better than she ever has before. We intentionally gave her plenty of time between the last race and this one. She's training well."
Eskenformoney stalked a fast pace set by Curlin's Approval in the one-turn Rampart before edging away to victory.
"I think she is versatile enough that she doesn't need a setup," Pletcher said. "She can take advantage of a slow pace or sit off of a fast pace. She's pretty professional that way."
Curlin's Approval followed up her game second-place finish in the Rampart with a commanding 2 1/2-length victory in the seven-furlong Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) Jan. 28, in which she closed from a stalking position to draw clear of Pletcher-trained Genre, who finished third in the Rampart.
The Marty Wolfson-trained filly won at first asking June 5 at Gulfstream by four lengths. Prior to the Rampart, she finished a respectable fourth in the seven-furlong Lexus Raven Run Stakes (G2) at Keeneland Oct. 22 after pressing the pace between horses.
"I feel she's ready. She's developing nicely," owner and breeder Happy Alter said of Curlin's Approval. "Pace makes the race, but she's worked well for the race and is getting better all the time."
The late-developing homebred has been a source of satisfaction and enjoyment for Alter, who will also be represented by My Awesome Mom in the $60,000 White Pearl Stakes on the Royal Delta undercard.
"I'm proud to say that, back when I was training a lot of horses, I had some really nice horses," said Alter, who campaigned multiple graded stakes winners Jolie's Halo, Frosty the Snowman, and Halo's Image. "They're few and far between, but as they develop, it's a real thrill."
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, February 18, 2017, Race 4
- 1 1/16m
- 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
- 1:30 PM (local)
|1||1Verve's Tale (KY)||Paco Lopez||123||Barclay Tagg||7/2|
|2||2Curlin's Approval (KY)||Luis Saez||121||Martin D. Wolfson||7/5|
|3||3Mo' Green (KY)||John R. Velazquez||117||Joseph F. Orseno||6/1|
|4||4Venom Girl (KY)||Raul Mena||117||Angel Quiroz||50/1|
|5||5Eskenformoney (KY)||Javier Castellano||123||Todd A. Pletcher||8/5|
|6||6Caboclo do Rio (CHI)||Emisael Jaramillo||119||Angel Quiroz||30/1|