Oonagh Maccool Much the Best in Rampart H.

Oonagh Maccool Much the Best in Rampart H.
Photo: Equi-Photo
Oonagh Maccool wins Saturday's Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
Favored Oonagh Maccool spotted her five rival fillies and mares a couple of lengths at the start of Saturday's $200,000 Rampart Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park but proved much the best in the drive to win easily at odds of 11-10.

Charles H. Wacker III's Irish homebred 4-year-old filly finished 2 ½ clear of Kinsman Stable's Sweet Symphony in her first graded stakes start.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano for trainer Todd Pletcher, Oonagh Maccool, the chestnut daughter of Giant's Causeway  , posted an eight-length allowance score at Saturday's 1 1/8-mile distance in her main track debut at Gulfstream Feb. 11.

Oonagh Maccool earned $120,000 for her fourth win in five lifetime starts. She began her career with back-to-back turf wins in Great Britain before finishing sixth in her first U.S. start in the Soar Softly on a yielding Aqueduct turf course in November.

"I tried to follow the instructions, but instead of breaking, she stumbled," Bejarano said. "She broke with a couple of jumps like she wanted to go to the front."

Sweet Symphony, winner of the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) last year for trainer Bill Mott, ran well to finish second in her first start since the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). She spotted the winner five pounds while carrying 119 and finished seven lengths clear of the pacesetter Classy Charm in third. The winning time was 1:49:99 over the fast track.

Classy Charm set fractions of :24, :47 1/5 and 1:11 3/5, but she couldn't go fast enough to get away from Oonagh Maccool, who figures to be heard from in the filly and mare division later this year. The favorite was last early as she broke in at the start and was steadied to avoid Eyes On Eddy. But Oonagh Maccool moved up to track the leaders and angled to the outside at the head of the stretch. She blew past Sweet Symphony near the eighth pole and won drawing away under urging by Blanc.

She paid $4.20, $2.40, and $2.20. Sweet Symphony returned $2.60 and $2.20. Classy Charm was $3.60 to show. Mocita, Eyes On Eddy, and Saint Kris trailed.

(Chart, Equibase)

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