Unrivaled Belle makes her first start since capturing last fall's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) when she faces six rivals in the Rampart Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park April 2.
Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler's 5-year-old homebred daughter of Unbridled's Song breaks from post 2 in the 1 1/8-mile Rampart, a race she won last year early on during a campaign in which she won or placed in six of seven starts and earned more than $1.6 million.
Unrivaled Belle will have regular rider Kent Desormeaux aboard for trainer Bill Mott. The gray/roan mare will carry co-top weight of 121 pounds in the Rampart, which is the 10th race on the Gulfstream program and is set to go off at 5:36 p.m. EDT.
Though she was a handy front-running winner of last year's Rampart, the biggest win during her 2010 season came, of course, in the Ladies' Classic Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Sent off at odds of 7-1, she drove wide for Desormeaux to get the lead and opened up a clear advantage in the stretch to defeat 3-year-old champion filly Blind Luck by 1 3/4 lengths.
Her season also included an upset victory over Rachel Alexandra in the La Troienne Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill in late April. She posted three consecutive runner-up finishes in grade I events at Belmont Park and Saratoga before posting her upset in the Breeders' Cup.
Unrivaled Belle boasts a career mark of 6-5-0 in 12 starts with earnings of $1,774,929. Her only out-of-the-money performance came on Santa Anita's former synthetic track to begin last season in the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) in February.
Awesome Maria, also assigned 121 pounds, made a splashy 2011 debut with a 4 3/4-length tally in the one-mile Sabin Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Feb. 19. Todd Pletcher trains E Paul Robsham Stables' 4-year-old homebred daughter of Maria's Mon.
The gray/roan filly will be ridden by John Velazquez, who was aboard in the Sabin. Awesome Maria raced three wide that day while pressing the pace and drew off in the final furlong for an impressive score. Winner of the Matron Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont in September 2009, she has won four of nine lifetime starts and earned $512,375.
Farnsworth Stables' Stephanie Got Even, breaking from the far outside, makes a quick turnaround after rallying to finish a distant third behind the record-setting Hilda's Passion in the seven-furlong Inside Information Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream March 19. Trained by Marty Wolfson, the 4-year-old Stephen Got Even filly won the American Beauty Stakes in January and came back to run second in the Spring Fever, both at Oaklawn Park.
Persuading, trained by Dale Romans for James M. Lauffer and Poplar Hill Equine, has been knocking on the door at Gulfstream this year, posting three consecutive grade III placings on turf. She was most recently second by one length to Never Retreat in the one-mile Honey Fox Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 5 after setting the pace from the inside and just failing to last. The swift 4-year-old daughter of Broken Vow drew the rail with Javier Castellano aboard and is seeking her first stakes win.
Darley homebred Dubai Dancer, a stakes winner at Monmouth Park last year, tuned up for the Rampart with a solid third in a 7 1/2-furlong optional claiming allowance as the favorite over the track Jan. 30 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. It was the first start of the year for the 4-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy.
Successful Song and Joanie's Catch, both stakes winners at Calder last year, ran second and fourth, respectively, in a Gulfstream optional claimer March 11.
$150,000 Rampart Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, 5:36 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Persuading (KY), J Castellano, 117, D L Romans
2. Unrivaled Belle (KY), K J Desormeaux, 121, W I Mott
3. Awesome Maria (KY), J R Velazquez, 121, T A Pletcher
4. Joanie's Catch (FL), J Santiago, 117, B R Rose
5. Successful Song (FL), E S Prado, 119, E Plesa, Jr.
6. Dubai Dancer (KY), A Garcia, 119, K P McLaughlin
7. Stephanie Got Even (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, M D Wolfson