Trainer Marty Wolfson had a good feeling that he'd visit the Gulfstream Park winner's circle following Saturday's $100,000 Musical Romance Stakes. He just expected that he would celebrate a victory in the 6 1/2 -furlong stakes for fillies and mares with Starship Truffles, the 2-1 favorite whom he had saddled for a grade I stakes victory two starts back.
Instead it was My Pal Chrisy.
"I thought Starship (Truffles) would beat this filly, but this filly has gotten so good, just so good since I bought her," said Wolfson, who saddled four of the seven starters in the Musical Romance.
My Pal Chrisy, who had captured the $100,000 Paseana Stakes at Gulfstream on Aug. 17 in her first start since being purchased by Miller Racing, benefited from a strong early pace and kicked in through the stretch to prevail by two lengths as the 5-2 third betting choice (VIDEO).
"She's much better going one turn. As a young horse, she was a much better going short," Wolfson said. "She's so good right now. I've watched her for the last year. I tried to buy her last year."
While My Pal Chrisy benefited from the strong early pace, it likely proved the undoing of her stablemate, Starship Truffles, a recent $1 million auction purchase by Castleton Lyons. She closely stalked the fast tempo set to her inside by Wildcat Lily, the second choice at 2-1 who had finished second in the Test Stakes (gr. I) and Prioress (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course.
My Pal Chrisy settled in the back of the pack under jockey Jonathan Gonzales as Wildcat Lily and Starship Truffles sped along the backstretch and into the turn in fractions of :22.50 and :45.30.
Starship Truffles, ridden by Edgard Zayas, inherited the lead on the turn into the homestretch when Wildcat Lily faded from her early efforts, but Appealing Stella instantly posed a serious threat to her outside. The Mid-Atlantic invader assumed a clear lead in mid-stretch but would prove no match for the surging My Pal Chrisy, who ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.41.
"Mr. Wolfson told me to ride her like last time—take her back and keep an eye on (Wildcat Lily)," Gonzales said. "When we were ready to make our move, she responded well."
Appealing Stella finished 4 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Starship Truffles, who was a length ahead of stablemate Bringingdown Babel in fourth. Sure Route, the fourth Wolfson starter, finished fifth, followed by Wildcat Lily and Isabelle's Thunder.
Wolfson said saddling four horses for a race can be a challenge.
"It's tough to watch, keeping an eye on all of them," he said. "They were all where I wanted them to be, except Starship Truffles, who was too close to the pace."
My Pal Chrisy is likely to be a frequent participant in future Gulfstream stakes. Bred in Florida by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds out of the Strike the Anvil mare Strike South, the 5-year-old Alex's Pal mare improved her record to 10-5-7 from 40 starts, with earnings of $621,168.
"She's a Florida-bred. She's eligible for the Claiming Crown (at Gulfstream on Dec. 7). She ran for $16,000," said Wolfson, noting that Starship Truffles, who won the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper at Gulfstream last year, is also eligible for the big event this year. "She has a lot of things here," he said.