Although she hasn’t run since Oct. 5 and hasn’t won since June 20, Juddmonte Farms’ Riposte looks to have a decisive class edge over her seven opponents in the $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 8.
The 4-year-old homebred daughter of Dansili—Rainbow Lake, by Rainbow Quest captured the Ribblesdale Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot, winning convincingly by 2 1/4 lengths.
She finished fifth in the subsequent Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I), but was beaten only 1 1/2 lengths. Following two disappointing efforts in England and France, she was laid up and sent to Bill Mott, who will saddle the filly Saturday with Joel Rosario aboard.
Breaking from the rail, it will be interesting to see the tactics employed, considering this is a 1 1/8-mile race and Riposte’s best performances have come at 1 1/2 miles. In fact, the shortest she’s ever run was 1 1/4 miles in her career debut.
Riposte has turned in a series of sharp half-mile and three-furlong breezes at Payson Park since Jan. 5 and appears ready for her return.
She will carry 121 pounds, two less that top weight Caroline Thomas, who also hasn’t run since October when she finished a fast-closing third, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland.
Trained by Barclay Tagg and owned by Joyce B. Young, the daughter of Giant's Causeway won the grade II Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga Race Course last year after being placed first on a disqualification. Caroline Thomas will break from post 7 under Luis Saez.
The danger from the back of the pack will come from the late-charging Abaco, who finished second in the Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park last October before capturing the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. In her one start this year, the daughter of Giant’s Causeway was a fast-closing fourth in the Marshua’s River (gr. IIIT), beaten 1 1/2 lengths. She carries 121 pounds and will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
Two fillies who are in excellent form going into the Suwannee River are Parranda and Nicki Starshine, the one-three finishers of the Jan. 18 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. Parranda was never threatened in the 1 1/8-mile race, winning by three lengths after opening a clear lead in the stretch. The daughter of English Channel has won three of her last four starts for trainer Rodolfo Garcia. She will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
Nicki Starshine raced evenly in the Sunshine Millions and just missed second by a nose. The daughter of Milwaukee Brew captured two minor stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course last year, but did not run well in her two starts at Gulfstream preceding the Sunshine Millions.
Of the others, Ainsley has won three of her past four starts in allowance company, Malibu Yankee was fourth in the Trevita Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in her last start, and Abbey Street has done little since breaking her maiden at Churchill Downs last April.
$150,000 Suwannee River Stakes (gr. IIIT, approximate post time 5:01 p.m.) Gulfstream Park, F&M, 4&up, 1 1/8 miles, turf
|1||Riposte (GB)||J Rosario||121||W I Mott|
|2||Parranda (FLA)||J Lezcano||119||R Garcia|
|3||Malibu Yankee (KY)||K Carmouche||117||N Saville|
|4||Ainsley (MD)||O Bocachica||117||M J Vitali|
|5||Abaco (KY)||J Castellano||121||C R McGaughey III|
|6||Nicki Starshine (FLA)||J J Gonzales||117||W P White|
|7||Caroline Thomas (KY)||L Saez||123||B Tagg|
|8||Abbey Street (KY)||P Lopez||117||E Gray|