Heavenly Landing, a 19-1 upsetter in last month’s Marshua’s River (gr. IIIIT), will try to keep her perfect turf record intact Feb. 11 when she goes in the $150,000 Suwannee River (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park.
The improving 5-year-old daughter of Pulpit has won all three of her starts since trainer Eddie Kenneally switched her to turf last fall. In the 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River she will face nine rivals including multiple graded stakes winner Denomination and Hit It Rich, who won the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) in her last start.
There were also two main track only entrants in the race, which is one of four graded stakes on Gulfstream’s Saturday card.
Owned by Summerplace Farm, Heavenly Landing has scored all three of her turf starts at 1 1/16 miles. She won a pair of allowances races at Keeneland and Churchill Downs to end last season, and started 2012 on the right note when coming from well back to get up by a nose in the Jan. 7 Marshua’s River. All three of her victories were with Corey Lanerie aboard. The Fair Grounds-based rider will fly in for the Suwannee River.
“She’s doing really well.” Kenneally said. “Her last race was her best. She’s an improving filly and three-for-three on the grass.”
Ghislaine Head’s Denomination should be a major factor in her 6-year-old debut. The daughter of Smart Strike was a close-up fourth, beaten less than a length, as the odds-on favorite in the Nov. 24 My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder in her last start. Prior to that she won the Violet Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park and Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park, giving her four group/graded triumphs in her 23-start career.
Joe Bravo will ride Denomination for Christophe Clement. Like Heavenly Landing, she will carry 121 pounds.
Also sharing that top weight will be Stuart Janney III’s homebred Hit It Rich, a winner in three of her past four times to the post. The 5-year-old Smart Strike filly took the Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct to complete an abbreviated 2011 campaign that also saw her win optional claimers at Saratoga and Keeneland. Javier Castellano will have the mount for Shug McGaughey.
Another top contender is Snow Top Mountain, who ran a big race to finish third in the My Charmer ahead of Denomination. She came back to lose a neck decision as the favorite in an allowance race at Tampa Downs on Jan. 9. Barbara Hunter’s homebred daughter of Najran has compiled a consistent 5-7-2 record from 19 starts.
$150,000 Suwannee River (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:17 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Cumulonimble (IL), J R Velazquez, 117, W M Catalano
2. Denomination (KY), 6/M L J Bravo, 121, C Clement
3. Thundering Emilia (KY), L Contreras, 117, M R Matz
4. Heavenly Landing (KY), C J Lanerie, 121, E Kenneally
5. Gold d'Oro (KY), E S Prado, 117, W I Mott
6. Hit It Rich (KY), J Castellano, 121, C R McGaughey III
7. Here to Win (BRZ), J R Leparoux, 117, K P McLaughlin
8. Snow Top Mountain (KY), J Lezcano, 117, T F Proctor
9. Speak Easy Gal (FL), E Trujillo, 117, M D Wolfson
10. Persuading (KY), J L Castanon, 117, D L Romans Main Track Only Dash Dot Dash (KY), E Trujillo, 117, M D Wolfson
Trip for A. J. (FL), A Fuller, 117, M W Wolfson