There is no talk of renaming the Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) just yet, but if they did, a new name would not be difficult to come up with: The Christophe Clement Stakes.
Clement has won the Orchid Stakes a remarkable six times dating back to 1994 and on March 20 he will have another solid chance when sending out a trio of contenders in the 1 1/2-mile turf event at Gulfstream Park. The $150,000 race for fillies and mares is the feature on Gulfstream’s 11-race program with a 5:25 p.m. EDT post.
Clement’s team in the field of eight consists of Castleton Lyons’ Tarrip, Moyglare Stud Farm’s Endless Expanse, and Newsells Park Stud’s Giant's Play. All of them have a good chance to take down the 5-2 morning-line favorite, Zapparition.
Tarrip is a 5-year-old Kentucky homebred daughter of Green Desert set to make her first start since finishing third in the 12-furlong La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder on Jan. 2. Tarrip finished the 2010 season with a third in the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct in mid-November. Alan Garcia will ride Tarrip (4-1), who has won twice in nine lifetime starts with five thirds.
Endless Expanse (7-2) has a winning trip over the course, capturing an 11-furlong allowance race on Feb. 27 in her American debut. The 4-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Red Ransom won two of six starts in Ireland to begin her career. Julien Leparoux draws the riding assignment.
Giant’s Play (8-1) finished third in an allowance going 1 7/16 miles on Feb. 4 at Gulfstream in her American debut. The 4-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway won one of seven starts in England. Joe Bravo will be aboard.
Blue Devil Racing Stable’s 4-year-old filly Zapparition was runner-up in her graded stakes debut last out in the Feb. 20 The Very One (gr. IIIT). The 4-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper missed by a half-length that day to Keertana, one month after scoring an allowance win over the same Gulfstream course in her season debut. Jose Lezcano will be in the irons for Dale Romans.
Trainer Graham Motion sends out an interesting prospect in Rashit Shaykhutdinov’s 4-year-old German-bred filly La Luna de Miel with John Velazquez named to ride. The daughter of Monsun won an ‘a other than’ allowance over the course on Feb. 18 going 1 7/16 miles in her third career start, following a win and an eighth-place finish in Germany last spring.
Clement was relatively new to training in the U.S. after launching his career in France when Trampoli won the Orchid in 1994. He sent out four straight Orchid winners from 1999-2002 with Coretta among the most accomplished, as she went on to finish second in the first ever running of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) run at Gulfstream in 1999.
$150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 5:25 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. Queen Martha (KY), P Lopez, 117, P L Biancone, 10/1
2. Zapparition (FL), J Lezcano, 117, D L Romans ,5/2
3. Giants Play (KY), J Bravo, 117, C Clement, 8/1
4. Musical Rain (IRE), J Castellano, 117, D L Romans, 6/1
5. Endless Expanse (IRE), J R Leparoux, 117, C Clement, 7/2
6. La Luna de Miel (GER), J R Velazquez, 117, H G Motion, 6/1
7. Tarrip (KY), A Garcia, 117, C Clement, 4/1
8. Doe Run (KY), K J Desormeaux, 117, W Phipps, 12/1