West Point Thoroughbreds and partners’ Justwhistledixie, the leading 3-year-old filly to emerge at Gulfstream Park last winter when posting victories in the Davona Dale (gr. II) and Bonnie Miss (gr. II), returns to South Florida for the Sabin Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 27.
Jockey Julien Leparoux rides Justwhistledixie for trainer Bill Mott as she makes her first start since finishing fourth in the 1 1/16-mile El Encino Stakes (gr. II) over the Pro-Ride synthetic surface at Santa Anita Jan. 27.
A daughter of Dixie Union, Justwhistledixie won the two Gulfstream stakes last year for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin before finishing second in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park in early June, but spent the summer on the sidelines. She returned to finish second in the Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct Nov. 27 in her first and only start for Mott before the El Encino.
A solid threat in the Sabin will be Farnsworth Stables’ 6-year-old mare Jessica Is Back if she gets loose on an easy lead. Jockey Javier Castellano rides Jessica Is Back for trainer Marty Wolfson, who also sends out Farnsworth’s 5-year-old mare Champagne Eyes with Elvis Trujillo in the saddle and Peachtree Stable’s Matchless Orinda with John Velazquez taking the call.
Jessica Is Back finished second behind Sweet Repent last out in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff Jan. 30 after dueling for the lead from the start. The daughter of Put It Back went wire-to-wire to win an allowance at Calder Dec. 6 by 5 1/2 lengths after a runner-up effort in the Elmer Heubeck Distaff in November.
Also on the Gulfstream card, which is highlighted by the $150,000 Davona Dale (gr. II), is The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT), a race that trainer Christophe Clement has won four times, most recently with Mauralakana in 2008. Clement will bid for another win with a pair of capable contenders—Philip Freeman’s Cable and Ronchalon Stable’s Belle Allure.
Cable is a 5-year-old mare by Dynaformer who ran a big race to finish second last out in the Suwannee River Stakes (gr. IIIT) going 1 1/8 miles over the same course Feb. 6. Cable is highly consistent with an 8-2-2-2 career record, but will be trying a distance beyond nine furlongs for the first time. Alan Garcia will ride.
Belle Allure, an Irish-bred 5-year-old mare by Numerous who was group placed in France in 2008,won the Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct last October. In one start since, Belle Allure finished 10th in the Marshua’s River Stakes over the Gulfstream course Jan. 16, but was beaten only three lengths by the winner in a wild finish. Rajiv Maragh will be in the irons.
A definite threat proven to handle the three-turn distance in the full field of 14 is Augustin Stable’s 6-year-old Pennsylvania homebred Long Approach with Julien Leparoux to ride for trainer Jonathan Sheppard. The daughter of Broad Brush finished fourth in this race last year to top-class distance performer Criticism and was runner-up to that rival again in the La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIT) in late April.
$100,000 Sabin Stakes (gr. III, Race 7, 4:12 p.m.), Fillies and Mares 4YO and Up, One Mile (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Justwhistledixie (KY), J R Leparoux, 123, W I Mott
2. Matchless Orinda (KY), J R Velazquez, 117, M D Wolfson
3. Amazing (FL), C S Nakatani, 117, B A Lynch
4. Miss Match (ARG), A Garcia, 117, M R Matz
5. Aurora Lights (KY), C H Velasquez, 121, E Coatrieux
6. Champagne Eyes (KY), E Trujillo, 117, M D Wolfson
7. Jessica Is Back (FL), J Castellano, 117, M D Wolfson
8. Slides Choice (OH), E Castro, 121, T E Hamm
$100,000 The Very One (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:14 p.m.), 4YO and Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Proud Lisa (KY), J Castellano, 117, J F Orseno
2. Belle Allure (IRE), R Maragh, 117, C Clement
3. Morena (PER), E Trujillo, 121, M R Matz
4. Long Approach (PA), J R Leparoux, 117, J E Sheppard
5. Cable (KY), A Garcia, 117, C Clement
6. Celtic Princess (BRZ), C H Velasquez, 117, E Caramori
7. In My Glory (KY), J L Castanon, 117, C Peery
8. Mystic Miracle (KY), E Coa, 117, M A Hennig
9. Closeout (FL), E S Prado, 117, T F Proctor
10. Zaskar (GB), E Castro ,117, J P Terranova II
11. Changing Skies (IRE), K J Desormeaux, 117, W I Mott
12. Kiawah Cat (KY), C S Nakatani, 117, W I Mott
13. Nehantic Kat (NY), J Bravo, 117, B Tagg
14. Lady Shakespeare (KY), J R Velazquez, 117, R L Attfield
15. Jessica Is Back (FL) (MTO), J R Leparoux, 117, M D Wolfson
16. Rcuandry (KY), J Rose, 117, H G Motion