Bentley Smith’s homebred Lady Carlock may have a small edge in the $100,000 Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park based on her victory in the Suwannee River (gr. IIIT) three weeks ago, but the wide-open turf event for fillies and mares is anyone’s for the taking.
A full field of 14 was entered for the 1 3/8-mile contest, one that includes graded stakes winners Backseat Rhythm, Callwood Dancer, Criticism, and Sea Chanter, as well as impressive last out European-bred allowance winners Dress Rehearsal and Lamentation. The Very One is the feature race on Gulfstream’s 10-race program Feb. 22 and will go to post at 5:07 p.m. EDT.
Trained by Carl Nafzger, Lady Carlock got up in the final strides to take the Feb. 1 Suwannee by a head for her first career graded stakes score. The win was also her first since prevailing in an allowance test last April – a span of seven starts. Overall, the 5-year-old daughter of Chester House—Incha, by Nashwan has produced a 4-6-3 mark from 19 starts.
Jermaine Bridgmohan, aboard for the Suwannee, will get the mount on Lady Carlock, who is one of five horses to carry top weight of 122 pounds.
Paul Pompa Jr.’s Backseat Rhythm is the lone grade I winner in the field, that coming two starts back in the Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) last September at Belmont. It was the second consecutive graded stakes triumph for the El Corredor filly, who also won the Lake Placid (gr. IIT) at the same nine-furlong distance in August at Saratoga.
Although she will have a class edge, Backseat Rhythm will have to be at her best off a more than four-month layoff, as she last raced in the Oct. 11 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) at Keeneland and finished runner-up. An earner of more than $700,000 from just 13 starts, the Pat Reynolds trainee will be ridden by Eibar Coa.
Three Chimneys’ Callwood Dancer will be looking to improve off a fifth-place finish in the Suwannee and for her first trip to the winner’s circle since winning in allowance company last summer at Woodbine. The 5-year-old Danehill Dancer mare has done her best running in Canada, as she also won the grade II Nassau Stakes there last May. Alan Garcia will ride for the first time for Roger Attfield.
Darley’s Criticism also enters the race in nice form, having earned her first graded stakes victory while making just her second U.S. start. Coming over from France, where she was grade III-placed, Criticism won the 1 1/2-mile Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) back in November at Aqueduct. The month before, she was second and only a length back in the Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Belmont during her North American debut. Edgar Prado will ride the Machiavellian mare for Tom Albertrani.
Other European invaders to watch for are Swettenham Stud’s Dress Rehearsal and Ashton House Stud’s Lamentation – both entering off allowance wins.
Dress Rehearsal, trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Kent Desormeaux, won her U.S. and 4-year-old debut by 1 1/4 lengths last month on the Tampa Bay grass. Christophe Clement trainee Lamentation also won her allowance race by 1 1/4 lengths, this one coming from off the pace after a poor start at Gulfstream Jan. 9. Rene Douglas will be in the irons for Clement, who has won the Very One six times, including last year with Mauralakana.