Favored Premier Steps, handled confidently by jockey Javier Castellano, caught pacesetting Discreet Marq in the last strides to post a neck victory in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park Jan. 27 (VIDEO).
Irish-bred Premier Steps, making her second start in the United States for trainer Chad Brown, completed the one-mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies in 1:34.20 over firm going. She went off as the 3-2 favorite.
Second choice Caroline Thomas was a neck behind runner-up Discreet Marq in the field of six.
Premier Steps was coming off a sixth-place finish in the Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 24 after being group-placed in Great Britain and France.
"She was very game to win today," Brown said. "Her race in the Miesque, I take responsibility. I wouldn't normally ship a horse 3,000 miles to make her American debut, but she was doing good and the race seemed perfect for her at a flat mile.
"She had trouble at the start," he noted. "It's not something I would do again."
Owned by Swift Thoroughbreds, Vintage Thoroughbreds, and partners, Premier Steps is a bay filly by Footstepsinthesand out of Primissima, by Second Set, and was bred by Manister House Stud.
Premier Steps saved ground while racing third to the far turn and angled three wide rounding the bend. She drew even with Discreet Marq past the furlong mark before inching ahead just before the wire.
"I had a beautiful trip and ended up right where I wanted to be," Castellano said.
Discreet Marq maintained a narrow advantage over Mystic Love while carving solid fractions of :23.40, :46.60, and 1:10.41 under Joe Ricco Jr. She saved the place spot over the oncoming Caroline Thomas, who rallied from fourth at the quarter pole for Luis Saez.
I O Ireland, Mystic Love, and Leinan completed the order.
Premier Steps, who improved to 2-1-1 in seven starts with earnings of $100,654, paid $5, $3.20, $2.60. Discreet Marq returned $4.80 and $3, rounding out a $29.60 exacta. Caroline Thomas was $2.60 to show.
Heading to Toga and Jadira scratched.