Successful Song was supposed to retire after the $100,000 Ocala Stakes, a one-mile dirt event run Dec. 30 at Gulfstream Park. But when the 6-year-old mare won by a convicing half-length over 4-5 favorite Golden Mystery, her connections decided to run her back in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff Jan. 16.
"As well as she ran to win the Ocala we just thought there was no reason not to run her this one more time in Saturday's race," trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said of Live Oak Plantation's daughter of Successful Appeal . Successful Song has posted a 26-7-5-5 record for earnings of $417,000 including four stakes victories.
Successful Song shares high weight of 119 pounds and is headed for a rematch with familiar nemesis My Pal Chrisy in the 1 1/8-mile Distaff, one of six high-dollar stakes for state-bred runners highlighted by the $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic.
The event for older fillies and mares, race seven on an 11-race card with an approximate post time of 3:35 p.m. EST, has drawn seven contenders.
The top two met last time out in the Ocala, with Successful Song getting the victory after pressing the pace throughout. My Pal Chrisy was 3 3/4 lengths back, third the whole way in a field scratched down to four.
In 2011 Successful Song ran second in the Rampart Handicap (gr. III) behind Awesome Maria
, with Unrivaled Belle
third. After making her season debut last year with a seventh in the previous edition of the Ocala, then run Jan. 8, she made six starts and never failed to hit the board.
Back at Plesa's Monmouth Park
base, she ran competitively in stakes company throughout the summer and spring, finishing second in the Monmouth Beach, taking the Lighthouse Stakes, as the runner-up in the Molly Pitcher (gr. II), and third in the Lady's Secret. She was third in the Nov. 10 Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap at Calder Casino & Race Course
before getting the recent Ocala win.
My Pal Chrisy has raced primarily in Florida for owner-trainer Padarath "Tony" Lutchman, with victories in the 2011 Stage Door Betty Handicap and Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap, and a fourth-place finish in the 2012 Sunshine Millions Distaff won by Awesome Feather
. Since July, the 5-year-old Alex's Pal
runner has been first or second in five starts excluding the third in the Ocala Stakes. She won the Elmer Heubeck for a second time Nov. 10, a sharp 7 1/4-length victory for the 1 1/16-mile event in which Successful Song was nosed for second by Flying Trip
Both My Pal Chrisy and Successful Song have found the winner's circle from off the pace, although of the two, Successful Song tends to sit a little closer. My Pal Chrisy will have an opportunity to take back from post 1 under jockey Luca Panici, while Successful Song and Joel Rosario depart the 4 hole.
Completing a trio of stakes-tested runners entered for the Distaff is Miller Racing's Speak Easy Gal
, cross-entered for the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf. The latter is a race this 7-year-old daughter of West Acre
has run in twice before, with a third-place finish in the 2012 edition. But the winner of the 2010 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) has also performed well on dirt, most recently second in an Oct. 27 allowance event going 1 1/16 miles at Calder.
Trainer Marty Wolfson will make a raceday decision regarding which event Speak Easy Gal will contest.
"I'm just going to wait until that morning," he said. "She handles both surfaces, she likes the mile and an eighth. She handles dirt really well and I've run her on dirt. Usually the turf races come up with more speed than the dirt races, so we'll see how things look weather-related and pace-related and make a call."
Completing the field are Alfonso Miranda's Delray Lady
, Winning Move Stable's Score Boyera
, Hardacre Farm's Tale of Peace
, and Michael Dubb and Bethelehem Stable's Mud Honey
—all allowance winners.
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. My Pal Chrisy, L. Panici, 119, P Lutchman
2. Delray Lady, J. Bravo, 117, J Garoffalo
3. Score Boyera, J. Alvarado, 117, D Jacobson
4. Successful Song, J. Rosario, 119, E Plesa, Jr.
5. Speak Easy Gal, L. Saez, 117, M D Wolfson
6. Tale of Peace, J.R. Velazquez, 117, A Tarrant
7. Mud Honey, P. Lopez, 117, R R Rodriguez