Lawrence Goichman’s homebred J’ray and Robert Scarborough’s Mauralakana head a field of older fillies and mares in the $100,000 The Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park March 8.
The Very One has drawn 11 entries and will be contested at 1 3/8 miles on the turf.
J’ray, a 5-year-old daughter of Distant View out of the Darshaan mare Bubbling Heights, last finished a game third in the Feb. 3 Suwannee River Handicap (gr. IIIT) going 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream. She was beaten only a half-length by Green Girl and came into that race off a win in the Dec. 1 My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder.
While J’ray has a 7-4-2 record from 17 starts, with six of those wins being stakes scores for trainer Todd Pletcher, she has never tackled 1 3/8 miles. Mauralakana has, and almost won at the distance with a Sept. 3 second-place finish in the Glens Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga. She lost by a neck to Rosinka.
But the 5-year-old Muhtathir mare has not raced since a sixth-place effort in the Sept. 22 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. IT) at Santa Anita, and her last win came in July with a score in the Locust Grove Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. Bred in France by S.A.R.L. Classic Breeding and M. Hassan, out of the Double Bed mare Jimkana, she will be making her first start for trainer Christophe Clement after moving from the barn of Patrick Biancone, and looks to add to her 6-2-3 record from 20 starts.
Trainer Michael Stoute sends out an intriguing runner in Elizabeth’s Moran’s homebred Duchess Royale. The 4-year-old Danehill filly, bred in Ireland out of the Pleasant Colony mare Fantasy Royale, makes her first start in the U.S. after racing six times on turf in Europe. She has never finished off the board, holding a consistent 2-2-2 record.
Dropping down in company and looking for her first black type score is William Clifton Jr.’s Hostess, who comes in off a layoff following a seventh-place effort in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (gr. IT) at Woodbine Oct. 21. Trainer H. James Bond has kept the daughter of Chester House in against tough fields in her past few starts, and she turned in a game finish in the Sept. 29 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont, just 1 1/2 lengths behind Lahudood. Bred in Kentucky by Peter Van Andel, out of the Vice Regent mare Charge d’Affaires, she was third in the Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) last year.
Archstone, Wine and Dyne, Eclisse, Cliffrose, Tejida, Lady Tropicana, and Herboriste complete the field.
$100,000 Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT, race 9, approximate post 5:15 p.m.), older fillies and mares, turf PP, Horse, Age, Weight, Jockey 1. Archstone, 5, 115, E. T. Baird
2. Wine and Dyne, 4, 115, Ariel Smith
3. Duchess Royale, 4, 115, Cornelio Velasquez
4. J'ray, 5, 120, Manoel Cruz
5. Mauralakana, 5, 117, Rene Douglas
6. Eclisse, 4, 116, Jamie Theriot
7. Cliffrose, 6, 116, Junior Alvarado
8. Hostess, 5, 117, John Velazquez
9. Tejida, 5, 116, Javier Castellano
10. Lady Tropicana, 5, 115, Eduardo Nunez
11. Herboriste, 5, 115, Jorge Chavez