Winner of the Demoiselle over the same track last November, Boca Grande was compromised in her last start, a sixth-place finish in the Forward Gal (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park a month ago when she threw a shoe on the way to the paddock and washed out.
“Her last race was a disaster," said winning trainer Shug McGaughey. "We had to change her shoe and it was hot. She chased a fast pace over that track and she didn’t want to be ridden that way."
In a field that had little speed signed up, Boca Grande, ridden by her regular pilot Mike Smith, was able to run with the pacesetter Perfect Forest. She responded when roused in the stretch, edging away to a big lead and digging in on the outside to hold off the closing Winning Point, with Luis Garcia aboard. Perfect Forest, the 8-5 choice, held on for third, one length behind the runner-up. The winning time was 1:36 2/5 for the one-turn mile on a fast track.
Perfect Forest, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, set fractions of :23 3/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 3/5.
"I was able to give her a breather, which was a good thing," Smith said of the winner. "Once I asked her to run she jumped up in there and had them. After she got to the front, she wanted to wait again. That was a good race for a horse that’s still learning. She likes being in tight. Every time she’s in there tight she runs.”
Boca Grande, a daughter of A.P. Indy--Country Hideaway (Seeking the Gold), is nominated for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). She won two of three starts last year, including a 3 3/4-length triumph in the Demoiselle. Her only other start this year was the Forward Gal.
“I don’t really think she was on the chase today," McGaughey said. "There just wasn’t that much speed in there. When she broke well and nobody was there, I kind of liked it. My worry was going a mile because her best race was here in the Demoiselle going a mile and an eighth. I’m tickled to death she redeemed herself."
Boca Grande earned $90,000 for her third win in five starts, boosting her bankroll to $241,100.
Sent off as the co-second choice in the field of eight while carrying top weight of 122 pounds, the dark bay paid $8, $4.50 and $2.90. Winning Point returned $13.60 and $4.60 in her stakes debut for trainer Edmond Gaudet. Perfect Forest, who won her last two races by a combined margin of nearly 14 lengths, was $2.70 to show in her stakes debut for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Officer in Pursuit finished fourth, followed by Bare Dancer, Lost Etiquette, Fee Fi Fo Fum and Desire to Excel. My Kitty scratched.