Darley Stable’s homebred Criticism, winner of consecutive graded stakes and a half-length from being undefeated since coming to the United States, tops a field of eight fillies and mares in the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 22 on the Gulfstream Park turf.
Bred in England, Criticism will carry top weight of 122 pounds in the 1 1/2-mile Orchid, which is the feature of Gulfstream’s Sunday program. The daughter of Machiavellian defeated three of the current starters in the Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) over the same turf course Feb. 22, including runner-up Dress Rehearsal, and fifth-place Lamentation, who will run for Christophe Clemente, a five-time winner of this event. Criticism is the lone graded stakes winner in the field.
Criticism came to the U.S last fall after winning four of 12 starts in France for trainer Henri-Alex Pantall. After being shipped to the barn of Tom Albertrani, the bay made her North American debut in the Oct. 11 Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park, finishing runner-up by a half-length after a rallying willingly in the stretch.
Three weeks later, Criticism shipped across town and scored in the 1 1/2-mile Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a length at Belmont. After nearly three months off, Albertrani picked the 1 3/8-mile Very One for her 5-year-old debut, where she set the pace and pulled away for a 2 1/2-length victory under Edgar Prado.
Also in Criticism’s favor is the fact her dam, Innuendo (by Caerleon), won the Orchid in 2001 in the final start of her career. Innuendo was trained by Clement.
Prado gets the return mount on Criticism, who will break from post 4. She has earned $355,367 in 15 lifetime starts.
Swettenham Stud’s Dress Rehearsal was well in back of Criticism through much of the Very One, but finished strongly in her U.S. graded stakes debut. The Irish-bred daughter of Galileo won two of five starts in Europe before being shipped to the states and into the barn of Bill Mott. She scored in optional claiming company Jan. 18 at Tampa Bay Downs in her first start in North America.
Kent Desormeaux will get the return mount on 4-year-old Dress Rehearsal, who will break from post 5.
Lamentation, who was bred in England but began her racing career in Italy, has won one of four starts since Clement took over training in September. The 5-year-old Singspiel mare won a 1 1/2-length allowance test at Gulfstream Jan. 9 in her season debut before failing to fire in the Very One. Regular rider Rene Douglas will stay aboard for the Orchid.
Julia Tuttle is expect to be part of the early pace scenario. Last year in the Virginia Oaks (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs, the daughter of Giant's Causeway opened up a commanding, 10-length lead into the stretch, but was run down by I Lost My Choo and finished third. Elvis Trujillo gets the call.