Softly, foreground, is working toward the Rampart Handicap.

Softly, foreground, is working toward the Rampart Handicap.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Runners Prepare for Rampart, Gaily Gaily at Gulfstream

Edited from Gulfstream Park track notes

Softly Trying to Make Amends in Rampart Handicap
Softly showed her affinity for Gulfstream Park's racing surface last year when she won her last two outings over the local track. Unfortunately, that didn't carry over to the new season when she finished sixth in the Sabin Handicap (gr. III) on Feb. 8. Trainer Carl Nafzger thinks she can made amend for that race in Saturday's $200,000 Rampart Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.

"She didn't have a shot in the Sabin," Nafzger said. "It seemed like everything went wrong and I know she's a lot better than that race shows."

After winning her last two races at Gulfstream last spring, Softly won two more races in Kentucky before her four-race winning skein was snapped in the Iowa Distaff Stakes at Prairie Meadows. She wouldn't win again until she won the Sweetest Chant Stakes at Arlington Park on Oct. 14 and followed with a score in the Churchill Downs Distaff Handicap (gr. II) on Nov. 9. In her 2002 finale, Softly was third in the Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28.

"She's training well for the Rampart," Nafzger said. "I worked her on Monday and she breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5. I know she'll run a better race than she did in the Sabin. I just hope that somebody runs with Allamerican Bertie on the front end or she'll be a tough horse to catch. I'm riding Eibar Coa (the meeting's leading rider) on her."

Gal O Gal Works for Gaily Gaily
Trainer Vinnie Blengs had his stakes-winning filly Gal O Gal work on the turf course at Gulfstream Wednesday. The 3-year-old breezed three furlongs in :37. Blengs said she's ready for Friday's $65,000 Gaily Gaily Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

"She went well this morning," Blengs said. "It was what I wanted and I'll be running her in that stakes on Friday. Chris DeCarlo will ride her back."

Gal O Gal has run off a four-race winning skein on the grass, with her latest victory coming in the Herecomesthebride Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream on Feb. 1. The bay filly found room along the inside under DeCarlo to be up to win the stakes by a half-length.

"I think she's found a home on the turf," Blengs said. "It's certainly been the answer to her success. She's just a little thing that has more heart than she has size. If she runs back to her last race then she'll be a tough horse to beat."

Pierce Will Run Alpha Squire in Gaily Gaily
Malcolm Pierce plans on stepping Stronach Stable's Alpha Squire up into stakes company on Friday and will enter her in the $65,000 added Gaily Gaily Stakes. The test for 3-year-old fillies will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

"She's getting awfully good," Pierce said. "She's won two races in a row and overcame a troubled trip in her first start of the year and still won. So I think it's time to see what she really is made of."

Alpha Squire broke her maiden in her third start in a dirt race in at Woodbine in Canada on Nov. 21 in her season finale. Pierce then ran her in a 8 1/2-furlong allowance race on the turf at Gulfstream in her 2003 seasonal debut on Feb. 2 which she won. According to the chart footnote of the race, "Alpha Squire steadied in behind the leader on the first turn, eased out, then rallied to take over inside the sixteenth pole and prevailed."

"She's been training well since her last win," Pierce said. "I breezed her five furlongs on Friday and she went in 1:02 1/5. I think she'll run good on Friday and right now I'm shopping for a rider. Cornelio Velazquez rode her in her last race but he told me he's committed to riding someone else in the race."

Cozy Island, who is also expected in the Gaily Gaily, worked Wednesday. She went a half-mile in :50 1/5.

From The Workout Desk
Gulfstream Park: Trainer Shug McGaughey worked a pair of horses on Wednesday. He had Storm Flag Flying, the 2-year-old filly champion in 2002, work a half-mile :49 breezing and Alchemilla worked five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 breezing Storm Flag Flying is being pointed towards the $100,000 Stonerside Forward Gal Stakes (gr. III) and Alchemilla may run in Saturday's Rampart Handicap...Trainer Ken McPeek worked Hi Tech Honeycomb a half-mile in :52 2/5 breezing. Hi Tech Honeycomb is slated for Sunday's $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap (gr. III) on Sunday.