Favored Gozzip Girl gave a superb performance from off the pace to win the crowded $700,000 American Oaks Invitational (gr. IT) (VIDEO) by 3 1/4 lengths at Hollywood Park July 5.
The New York shipper Gozzip Girl, ridden brilliantly by Kent Desormeaux, avoided traffic in the 14-horse field and kicked on powerfully mid-stretch when Magical Affair could not find room. The Farnsworth Stables-owned daughter of Dynaformer proved much the best in comfortably winning the 1 1/4-mile turf test for 3-year-old fillies. Tom Albertrani is the winning trainer.
“She had a huge turn of foot like we saw in her race down at Gulfstream,” Albertrani said. “I was hoping to see that today. I think we needed that to win today.”
Gozzip Girl was the 2-1 choice following her convincing win in the Sands Point (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park in her last start. In becoming a grade I winner, she triumphed for the fifth time in eight starts.
Well off the early pace and still ninth after a half-mile, Gozzip Girl closed in on the front-runners three wide mid-stretch with Magical Affair and Julien Leparoux on her inside. Gozzip Girl swallowed up the leaders, Third Dawn and Afternoon Stroll, but Magical Affair could not squeeze between them and steadied severely.
As Gozzip Girl skipped away to victory under some left-handed urging, Well Monied and Lexlenos closed to claim second and third, respectively. The unlucky Magical Affair wound up fourth. The final time was 2:00.22.
Afternoon Stroll took the early lead as British invader Apple Charlotte pressed through fractions of :24.19, :47.47 and 1:11.61. Third Dawn, third along the inside, took advantage of Afternoon Stroll racing off the rail to grab the lead with a half-mile to run and she took the field into the stretch with Afternoon Stroll and Apple Charlotte close by. But all three would drop out of it as Gozzip Girl and the other back markers charged into contention. Both Well Monied, ridden by Joel Rosario, and Lexlenos. with Alex Solis aboard, closed with interest, but never threatened the winner. Well Monied finished a half-length in front of Lexlenos.
Gozzip Girl improved her turf record to five wins in six tries. The dark bay filly won both the Sands Point, which was over a yielding course, and Gulfstream Park's Herecomesthebride (gr. IIIT) this year. In addition, she missed being a grade I winner on synthetic by just a neck when she finished second to Hooh Why in Keeneland's Ashland Stakes. The winning purse for the Oaks, $420,000, increased her earnings to $782,194.
“This race has been on our radar ever since Gulfstream Park,” Albertrani said. “I was here last year with Raw Silk (who finished off the board) and I always wanted to come back again. When this filly started to show me that she was a really nice filly, this was the race we had planned way back then.
“This was her toughest assignment so far,” he added. “She’s done so well and she seems like she’s improving all the time. We’re almost thinking about trying her back on the dirt. We’re going to talk about it, but the Alabama (gr. I) might be in our sights at Saratoga. She is very versatile. She can win on the lead and come from behind. She looks like she is just getting stronger and improving all the time.”
Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings bred Gozzip Girl in Kentucky. She is out of Temperence Gift, by Kingmambo.
Though she won on the lead in the slowly-paced Sands Point for him, Desormeaux eschewed the lead in winning the American Oaks.
"She's very much a lovely ride,” Desormeaux said. “She's very graceful. She really loomed up boldly and got to that first flight quickly. It was just a matter of picking a gap and giving her somewhere to run. I know she's very talented, but she really ran fantastic today. She won handily."
Gozzip Girl won under 121 pounds and paid $6.40, $3.80 and $3.20, topping a $2 exacta worth $39.40. Well Monied, winner of Hollywood's Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) in her last start, returned $7 and $5.20. The Irish-bred Lexlenos, third in the Honeymoon, was $39.40 to show.
Well Monied took the overland route from 13th to finish impressively.
“We overcame a lot to be second,” trainer Howard Zucker said. “This was like a Breeders’ Cup field. What a job they did with this race. We just needed a better trip. None of them tried harder than my horse.”
Magical Affair was followed by Acting Lady, Afternoon Stroll, The Best Day Ever, Apple Charlotte, Third Dawn, Nan, Rare Ransom, Mrs Kipling, Pretty Unusual and Puttanesca.