After closing 2013 with a runner-up finish in the Matron Stakes (gr. II), Sweet Whiskey will try to secure her first graded stakes win Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park when she faces an expected five other 3-year-old fillies in the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes (gr. III).
Like the Matron, where Sweet Whiskey finished second by a length to Miss Behaviour, the Old Hat will be contested at six furlongs.
Alto Racing's Sweet Whiskey scored a front-running victory in her maiden debut last Aug. 11 at Saratoga Race Course before finishing fourth in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) there, and then was second in the Matron at Belmont Park.
"Everything has gone according to plan," said Sweet Whiskey's trainer Todd Pletcher, who swept the Old Hat and Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) last year with Kauai Katie en route to his 10th consecutive Gulfstream training title. "We went light on her for a little while, and she's picked it up. Luckily, everything has kind of fallen into place. Hopefully, she fires off the layoff like she did in the first start of her life."
A daughter of Old Fashioned, Sweet Whiskey will start from the inside post Saturday under jockey Javier Castellano. Old Fashioned finished 11th on the list of leading freshman sires in 2013.
Starting next to Sweet Whiskey will be Zensational Bunny, who registered victories in each of her two career starts at Woodbine, including a 3 3/4-length tally in the Glorious Song Stakes Nov. 23. Gary Barber's Zensational Bunny will be making her first start on dirt after her two Polytrack wins and the daughter of Zensational will be the field's highweight at 120 pounds.
$100,000 Old Hat Stakes (gr. III, race 3, approximate post time 1:38 p.m. EST) 3YO Fillies, 6F
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Sweet Whiskey (KY), J. Castellano, 116, T. Pletcher
2. Zensational Bunny (KY), J. Rosario, 120, M. Casse
3. Aurelia's Belle (KY), J. Leparoux, 116, W. Catalano
4. Milam (KY), C. Lanerie, 116, E. Kenneally
5. Co Cola (KY), J. Lezcano, 116, T. Pletcher
6. Side Street (KY), J. Castanon, 116, E. Gray