It hardly came as a surprise when Cali Star scored impressively in her first start after joining trainer Marty Wolfson's barn; the 64-year-old conditioner has built an extensive resume of fillies and mares that have attained graded stakes-winning successes under his care.
Moved to Wolfson after an eighth in allowance company Oct. 2 at Keeneland, the 4-year-old Street Cry filly withstood early pressure while setting the pace in her Gulfstream Park West debut for her new trainer and drew clear to win by five lengths.
"She's very nice. She was working so well. She had unbelievable works," said Wolfson, who now conditions Cali Star for Ben Walden Jr. and Larry Taylor. "When she was working at Churchill, every work I saw was :51 or :52. I worked her the first day here and she went :47 and two, and from there on out, she had the same works all the time. Maybe she didn't like the track there."
Cali Star is slated to make her graded stakes debut at Gulfstream Park in the $100,000 Rampart Stakes (gr. III) Dec. 12, a one-turn mile stakes for fillies and mares in which she will join fellow Wolfson trainees Best Behavior and Curlin's Princess in a field of eight.
With previous experience at Gulfstream—she finished second in two of three starts there in 2014 for trainer Bill Mott and breeder Besilu Stables—Cali Star won two of her previous 17 races before debuting for Wolfson in the optional claiming allowance Nov. 18 at a two-turn mile at Gulfstream Park West.
"She did it pretty easy. She doesn't need to be on the front end, if you look at her form. She was much the best that day," Wolfson said.
Miller Racing's Best Behavior captured an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream in her last start, but that score came on July 17.
"Her last race was a mile and she won easily," Wolfson said. "I'm not sure she's 100% fit, but she'll be in front. Coming off the layoff, I think she'll show a lot of speed."
Alter's Racing Stable's Curlin's Princess finished third behind Cali Star last time out after scoring in a one-turn-mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream.
"I tried her two turns last time and she didn't like it. She hung," Wolfson said. "The one-turn mile suits her."
Gelfenstein Farm's Danessa Deluxe, who split the Wolfson horses while finishing second at Gulfstream Park West last time out, returns in the Rampart. The Jorge Navarro-trained 3-year-old filly finished third in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) in March.
Gil Campbell's Legal Laura enters the Rampart in sharp form, following up a solid second-place finish at Keeneland with a late-surging 2 1/2-length score in the Millions Distaff Preview at Gulfstream Park West.
Holly Crest Farm's Stiffed, who captured an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park in February, returns to the Hallandale Beach track for the Rampart. The John Mazza-trained 4-year-old filly won two stakes and finished second in the Molly Pitcher (gr. III) at Monmouth Park during the summer.
Arindel's Pink Poppy, a stakes winner on turf, is scheduled to run at her seventh different track in her last seven starts while moving to dirt. The Ronny Werner-trained 4-year-old daughter of Tiznow has run three times on dirt, all on off tracks, while producing a win and a third-place finish.
Pinnacle Racing and Norman Racing's Moment of Delight, who finished fourth behind Legal Laura last time out, rounds out the field for trainer Bill Kaplan.
Wolfson is also expected to be well represented in the $100,000 South Beach, one of three supporting stakes to the Rampart on Saturday's card, by Lori's Store. Miller Racing's 5-year-old daughter of El Prado, who captured back-to-back turf stakes during Gulfstream's summer meet, enters the 7 1/2-furlong turf stakes off a troubled fourth-place finish in the My Charmer (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park West.
"She should have won her last race. She got stopped at the three-eighths pole. I'm not saying she got a bad ride; she was 45-1," Wolfson said. "But she should have won. She got in all kinds of trouble."
Magelen Bryant's Hope Cross was also entered in the South Beach, which drew a field of 10 fillies and mares. Trained by Chad Brown, the 4-year-old daughter of Cape Cross previously had won two of three starts at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.
Jal Dastur's Endless Light, who lost two graded stakes at Woodbine by a nose; Dauphine Russe, an optional claiming allowance winner in her first start since being claimed by David Jacobson; and Valor Ladies' Tuttipaesi, a graded stakes winner who captured the Suffolk Downs Distaff Turf in her most recent start for trainer Bill Mott, are among the more prominent entrants in the South Beach.
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, December 12, 2015, Race 3 Gulfstream Park, Saturday, December 12, 2015, Race 9
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Cali Star (KY) Tyler Gaffalione 117 Martin D. Wolfson 3/1 2 2Stiffed (NJ) Orlando Bocachica 121 John F. Mazza 5/1 3 3Pink Poppy (FL) Eddie Castro 117 Ronny W. Werner 15/1 4 4Curlin's Princess (KY) Luis Saez 114 Martin D. Wolfson 12/1 5 5Legal Laura (FL) Paco Lopez 119 Kathleen O'Connell 8/1 6 6Danessa Deluxe (KY) Edgard J. Zayas 114 Jorge Navarro 4/1 7 7Best Behavior (ON) John R. Velazquez 119 Martin D. Wolfson 5/2 8 8Moment of Delight (FL) Juan C. Leyva 118 William A. Kaplan 12/1
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Dauphine Russe (FR) Javier Castellano 117 David Jacobson 4/1 2 2Lemon Point (FL) Tyler Gaffalione 119 Philip A. Gleaves 15/1 3 3Unbridled Courage (FL) Paco Lopez 116 Peter R. Walder 6/1 4 4Endless Light (GB) Luis Saez 117 Mark R. Frostad 5/1 5 5Celebrity Star (KY) Edgard J. Zayas 119 David C. Kassen 20/1 6 6Hope Cross (IRE) Joe Bravo 119 Chad C. Brown 7/2 7 7Spectacular Me (KY) John R. Velazquez 117 Steve Klesaris 8/1 8 8Tuttipaesi (IRE) Christopher P. DeCarlo 121 William I. Mott 8/1 9 9Night Song (KY) Feargal Lynch 117 Amy Tarrant 15/1 10 10Lori's Store (FL) Julien R. Leparoux 121 Martin D. Wolfson 6/1
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, December 12, 2015, Race 3
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, December 12, 2015, Race 9