Safari Queen Starts '07 Journey in The Very One

Arindel Farm’s 5-year-old Argentine-bred mare Safari Queen has the credentials to be favored against eight rival fillies and mares entered in Sunday’s $100,000 The Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) going 1 3/8 miles on turf at Gulfstream Park.

The Very One will share the spotlight on the Sunday program with the $100,000 Gaily Gaily Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf, in which 2006 Eclipse champion 2-year-old filly Dreaming of Anna gets back on her favorite surface after a third-place finish in Gulfstream's Old Hat Stakes (gr. III) two weeks ago.

Jockey John Velazquez rides Safari Queen from the rail for trainer Todd Plercher as she goes for a third consecutive graded stakes victory in The Very One. The chestnut daughter of Lode won the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct Nov. 4 and the La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. II) at Calder last out on Dec. 16. Both races were contested at 12 furlongs, but the latter was forced off the turf to a sloppy main track.

Safari Queen’s most formidable rival in Sunday’s race would appear to be Monceaux Stable’s 5-year-old German-bred mare Royal Highness, who fell just a half-length short of catching Safari Queen when second in the Long Island in her last appearance. She should have plenty of support to reverse that result Sunday.

Jockey Edgar Prado gets the call on Royal Highness for trainer Christophe Clement. The daughter of Monsun raced with distinction in France through September, finishing third in the Prix Vermeille (Fr-I) at Longchamp in September then a very respectable third behind English Channel in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Belmont Park before the Long Island. She carries top weight of 120 pounds on Sunday, three more than Safari Queen.

$100,000 The Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:54 p.m.)
Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Safari Queen (ARG), 117, John R. Velazquez
2. Moon Berry (BRZ), 113, Manoel R. Cruz
3. Baleriana (PER), 112, Eduardo O. Nunez
4. Barancella (FR), 117, Javier Castellano
5. Royal Highness (GER), 120, Edgar S. Prado
6. Bend a Little (KY), 114, Rene R. Douglas
7. Jinni (KY), 113, Cornelio H. Velasquez
8. Cursora (ARG), 113, Kent J. Desormeaux
9. Marchonin (KY), 113, Mark Guidry

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