Seven 3-year-old fillies seek their first graded stakes victory in the $150,000 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 9, including Cloverleaf Farm II homebred Bsharpsonata, who enters off consecutive stakes wins on the grass.
The seven-furlong Forward Gal is on the dirt, but that surface should not be a problem for the versatile Bsharpsonata. On Sept. 22, the Pulpit filly buried the field by seven lengths in the one-mile Irish Sonnet Stakes on the main track at Delaware Park.
Maryland-based Tim Salzman trains Bsharpsonata, whose only defeat in her last four starts came in the Oct. 26 Epitome Breeders’ Cup Stakes on the yielding turf at Monmouth Park. After taking the lead into the stretch, she flattened out to finish fourth, 2 ¼ lengths back.
Since then, Bshapsonata, who is out of the Affirmed mare Apasionata Sonata, captured the Nov. 24 Selima Stakes at Laurel Park and the Jan. 1 Tropical Park Oaks at Calder Race Course, both at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
A Florida-bred, Bsharpsonata cuts back to under a mile for the first time in five starts. Breaking from post three with regular rider Eric Camacho aboard and carrying a top weight of 120 pounds, she should be up close early.
Bsharpsonata was sent out at odds of 30-1 for Round One of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) future wagering pool. She is the 3-1 second choice in the Forward Gal.
Early speed should come from Gary and Mary West Stables’ Keep the Peace, a Touch Gold filly who is undefeated in two starts with both wins having come in front-running fashion. A New York-bred, Keep the Peace broke her maiden by 4 ½ lengths as a 30-1 longshot Nov. 9 at Churchill Downs. She then tried allowance competition Jan. 4 at Gulfstream and fared even better, going gate-to-wire under Edgar Prado in a seven-length score at six furlongs as the favorite.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Keep the Peace was purchased for $65,000 at the Keeneland 2006 September yearling sale. She will break from the rail under Prado and is the 2-1 morning line favorite.
"She's done everything right so far," Kenneally said. "She has a bright future, but this will be her first real test. There are some quality fillies in here. She definitely has nice speed, but doesn't necessarily have to be on the lead. We'll let Edgar decide the tactics."
A pair of Fusaichi Pegasus fillies should also be given consideration. Melissa Jo, out of the Fly So Free mare Takeaway, enters off a second-place finish in the Jan. 12 Old Hat Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream, in which she was beaten seven lengths by Game Face. The James Jerkens trainee was a well-beaten third in the Nov. 24 Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct.
The other Fusaichi Pegasus filly is Morakami, a $225,000 yearling purchase. After breaking her maiden in August, Morakami was aggressively placed in three consecutive graded stakes – the Spinaway (gr. I) at Saratoga, Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) at Keeneland, and Golden Rod (gr. II) at Churchill Downs – and finished off the board in all of them. However, in the Alcibiades and Golden Rod, both at 1 1/16 miles, Morakami showed good early speed before weakening in the stretch.
Most recently, Morakami, who is trained by Rusty Arnold, was beaten a neck in a seven-furlong allowance test at Gulfstream Jan. 19 after coming from off the pace. Javier Castellano will ride.
$150,000 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:13 p.m. EST), Three-Year-Old Fillies, Seven Furlongs (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Keep the Peace, 116, Edgar S. Prado
2. Cozy Mesa, 118, Cornelio H. Velasquez
3. Bsharpsonata, 120, Eric Camacho
4. Sensational Love, 116, Eddie Castro
5. Melissa Jo, 116, Kent J. Desormeaux
6. Cape Cod Lady, 116, Eduardo O. Nunez
7. Morakami, 116, Javier Castellano