He could feel the frontrunners getting away from him, and his even-money favorite had ground to make up from her tracking position in fifth, so the jockey put his mount to the test—and Salty responded, dashing past her competition with a sweeping outside move and driving away to a 4 1/4-length victory.
"I was a little concerned, and even Joel said maybe he moved a little quick," trainer Mark Casse said. "He didn't realize how hot the pace was, but he saw them getting away from him and he put her in a drive three-quarters of a mile out. That's a tough thing to do with a filly making her first start around two turns, but that just shows you how good she is."
A daughter of Quality Road who was bred in Kentucky by Prince Farm and Selcusive Farm out of the Dixie Union mare Theycallmeladyluck, Salty made her first appearance at the races Feb. 4 with a runner-up finish at Gulfstream Park. She caught Casse's attention that afternoon, and he pursued a private purchase with owner Gary Barber, who now owns the filly in partnership with Baccari Racing Stable and co-breeder Chester Prince. Salty broke her maiden for those connections at second asking going seven furlongs March 5.
From maiden winner to Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) prospect, the talented bay picked up her first graded stakes score in her stakes debut, and earned 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. That's where Casse confirmed she's headed next.
Nonna Bella was the one who showed the field of eight through the first three-quarters of the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Oaks. The Stay Thirsty filly set opening fractions of :23.26 and :46.72 before fading to fourth. Jordan's Henny took a brief lead through three-quarters in 1:10.77, but Salty quickly took over and widened her advantage through a 1:35.96 mile, finishing in a final time of 1:42.91 on a fast track.
“I thought that there would be some speed, and it was exactly how it happened," Rosario said. "I got her going a little early because of the first wire. She responded very, very nice. The more you ride her the more she keeps giving it to you. I felt confident in the last turn when she was trying to get up and getting close to the leader.”
Salty returned $4, $2.80, and $2.20, runner-up Tequilita brought $3.40 and $2.80, and Jordan's Henny paid $3.20 to complete the trifecta. After Nonna Bella came Modacious, Conquest Sorceror, Spring Mist, and Shezaprado. Summer Luck was scratched.