Trainer Neil Howard began the Gulfstream meet with some well-bred and unraced 3-year-olds and one of them, undefeated Unbridled Lassie, will be starting in Friday's Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II). The 1 1/8-mile test is the closing day feature and will also feature runners Lasting Sensation and Happily Unbridled.
Unbridled Lassie made her career debut a winning one with a length victory in a six furlong maiden race on Jan. 21. The daughter of Unbridled then came from off the pace to win an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 11.
"It's kind of a tall order for a filly who has only run twice," Howard said. "But she's won both of her races and she did it against the bias. She's training well and the Bonnie Miss looks like a good spot to find out how good she is."
Howard worked Unbridled Lassie five furlongs on March 10 in :59 2/5 handily which was the best time of 20 horses working that distance.
"She worked extremely well and did it easily," Howard said. "She came out of the work in good shape and everything points towards running her on Friday."
Lasting Sensation has won a pair of sprint races in her last two starts but she has done it in such a style that trainer Carl Nafzger is going to run her in the Bonnie Miss.
"She's an improving filly and is really doing good," Nafzger said. "She broke her maiden at Churchill Downs in her last start last year and she won her first start here this year. The only problem is they were both in sprint races and the Bonnie Miss is around two turns."
Lasting Sensation rallied from eighth place to win in a seven-furlong maiden race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. Then, in her seasonal bow at Gulfstream on Feb. 11, the bay filly rallied from 11th to be up in time to win the race by a nose.
"The way she has of running her best races through the stretch makes me think she is going to like to go around two turns," Nafzger said. "I would like to have a middle distance race under her before trying stakes company but it hasn't worked out that way. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do."
Happily Unbridled won't truly be a 3-year-old until May 23, but owner-trainer Happy Alter is pleased with her development to date.
"She's a late foal but she's already a good size," Alter said. "And she's very mature for her age. She looks like she will like the distance, and I think she has the potential to be the kind of filly that could run in the later classics like the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I, May 4)."
The daughter of Unbridled, out of the Topsider mare Spire, broke her maiden at Calder Nov. 5 after pressing the pace briefly and then holding on with a hand ride late for a three-quarter length tally. Using those same tactics, she came back Dec. 4 to draw off by four lengths in a mile test. Then, in her Gulfstream debut Jan. 13, she drew off again by 8 3/4 lengths going 1 1/8 miles.
Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II)
3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles
Post Horse Weight Rider
1 Happily Unbridled 114 Julio Garcia
2 Halo Reality 117 Rene Douglas
3 Indy Glory 114 Richard Migliore
4 Unbridled Lassie 114 Pat Day
5 Tap Dance 112 Jerry Bailey
6 Serene Ditty 114 John Velazquez
7 Lasting Sensation 114 Robbie Davis