Gazelle Could Help Determine 3-year-old Filly Champ

(Edited NYRA report)

The grade I, $250,000 Gazelle Handicap at 1 1/8 miles features a rematch between Island Fashion and Spoken Fur, the 1-3 finishers in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I), and has also attracted Test Stakes (gr. I) winner Lady Tak.

Island Fashion has been powerful in her last two starts, drawing off to win by more than five lengths both times. Owner Jeffrey Neilsen turned the filly over to Barclay Tagg after former trainer Nick Canani accepted a private job.

"She sure was impressive in the Alabama," Tagg said. "I don't know how she'll handle one turn. I've only run her once and that was around two turns. It doesn't seem like much bothers her, though."

Spoken Fur was running for a $2 million Triple Tiara bonus in the Alabama, but did not have the same energetic middle-move she did when she won the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) and Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I). Her seven-length Alabama defeat snapped a five-race win streak.

Lady Tak comes off a convincing runaway in the Test at seven furlongs. She failed as the favorite going 1 1/8 miles in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in May.

"I'm extremely confident for the Gazelle," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "There's a lot more of her now than there was back in May. She's one of the best 3-year-old fillies and this will be an important race to decide the championship. If she wins, her, Bird Town and Spoken Fur will all have two grade I wins this year. It will come down to who finishes the year the best."

1. Spoken Fur, Frankel, Cornelio Velasquez, 121
2. Danuta, Thomas Albertrani, Jorge Chavez, 114
3. Island Fashion, Barclay Tagg, John Velazquez, 122
4. Holiday Lady, Nick Zito, Javier Castellano, 113
5. Alchemist, Claude McGaughey, Edgar Prado, 114
6. Buy The Sport, Brian Meehan, Pat Day, 113
7. Stellar, Patrick Biancone, Tony Farina, 113
8. Lady Tak, Steve Asmussen, Jerry Bailey, 121