Once again, the three-year-olds remain in the spotlight for this week's races at Picks & Ponderings. Yet, it's a fillies-only weekend of coverage this weekend. The only race yielding Kentucky Oaks qualifying points is the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes (previewed by Nicolle Neulist). This space goes to the opposite coast for its preview, for the Grade 3, $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes from Gulfstream Park.
First run in 1984 (with a few skipped years along the way), the Herecomesthebride Stakes serves as the de facto championship race of the three-year-old filly turf set during the winter. (Two other stakes are on the card later, the G2 Swale for sophomore sprinters and this race's open complement, the G3 Palm Beach.) Typically, Kentucky Oaks dreams are still hard and fast (just as the Derby Dreams are for the boys, and the corresponding Future Wager Pool 3 occuring the weekend of this race), as this grass race hasn't yet yielded a Kentucky Oaks winner.
Although a horse named Herecomesthebride was born in 1999 and raced seven times in the mid-Atlantic, the namesake likely traces to the mare born in 1974, by Al Hattab out of Pied d'Or mare Like a Charm. A sixteen time starter and twelve time winner, she won the then ungraded Bonnie Miss (now the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks) in the early part of 1977 and was runner-up in the then-G1 Monmouth Oaks at three. At four she won two stakes, one graded and on the grass, at Hialeah. Notable heroines of this stakes include Judy's Red Shoes (1986), a stakes nameplate at Gulfstream Park West nee Calder, Auntie Mame (1997), who later won the fall fixture G1 Flower Bowl, and Dayatthespa (2012), who was named Champion Female Turfer in 2014.
Gulfstream Park's website offers a free video stream for the race examined in this piece, as well as the Gulfstream card in its entirety.
Morning lines for these race, scheduled for Saturday February 28th, were not available at original publish time. All post times given below are those given by Equibase as these post times are purely an approximation and the track is known for running races after the advertised post time.
Edited Thursday, February 26 to add morning lines.
Gulfstream Park -- Race 5 -- Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes -- One and one-sixteenth miles on turf -- post time 2:30 pm ET
Analysis and selections are for "turf only".
The 1-2 finishers from the Sweetest Chant Stakes a month ago come back in this event and both stretch out a sixteenth of a mile from the flat mile they went last out. It "looks" to play out similarly: with a solid upfront pace and coming second off the layoff, CONSUMER CREDIT should get a pace to close into and rally wide down the lane under the services of Edgard Zayas. She didn't disappoint when doing it as the 9-5 favorite in the Sweetest Chant and beating QUALITY ROCKS by a length. But that came at a mile, and in this race we add a half furlong. Those were quotes of doubt, readers. The thinking is that half furlong may work better for QUALITY ROCKS, who pulled off the pace in the G3 Jessamine last fall at the same distance as this event. And that ability to pull off and stalk makes her a bit more likable in a race with speed at the inside. Think Javier Castellano can put this one into a stalking inside trip or a two-wide/three-wide trip similar to what she got in the Sweetest Chant. So, in light of the wedding connotations of this race's namesake, the thinking is you should take QUALITY ROCKS down the aisle with you. Like CONSUMER CREDIT she's going second off the lay and her record looks worse, though it's due to the wide trip from gate ten during the Breeders' Cup. Take nothing away from CONSUMER CREDIT, who brings a three-race win streak in and beat QUALITY ROCKS last time. While she hails from the Chad Brown barn that's clipping along at 26% wins, the win a month ago is the only time Zayas (still having a bang-up meet) and Brown have connected. Plus, the extra sixteenth might be a pedigree liability given she's by More Than Ready (who tend to love miles, even though popular local I'm Already Sexy won at a mile and three-sixteenths), and her dam was middling in elongated sprints in the states. Winning at nine furlongs on debut is no easy task, and that's what PINE NEEDLES did on New Year's Day over the South Florida weeds. Unseen since then (and creating a layoff situation that the trainer is 19% wins at), this Christophe Clement trainee should be the most durable of the speed hailing from Giant's Causeway. She was pressured in her maiden graduation through honest splits (half-mile in :48 1/5. three-quarters in 1:13). In this event she's stepping up from maidens to graded types and you wonder if the jump is too much, too soon. However, if the pace gets fast upfont with her and the likes of Donn Day winner TUMMINIA, expect her to hang on her longer than most and that could be to her benefit.
#5 QUALITY ROCKS (5/2)
#8 CONSUMER CREDIT (9/5)
#4 PINE NEEDLES (8/1)
Longshot: You won't find #9 MADDIZASKAR (20/1) on a map of the world. And as a deep closer, this one will be coming from MADDIZASKAR, or Madagascar. But in a field with speed (PINE NEEDLES) and stretchouts (ARELLA PRINCESS), MADDIZASKAR might get the pace collapse she needs to fire her best shot. A two-turn winner at first asking earlier in the Gulfstream meet, she logically stepped up to the first-level allowance and was forced five wide on the second turn. However, she did improve her figure a little from start one to start two and that shows she could improve start two to start three. As she didn't lose position despite the wide rally, it shows an ability to pick off rivals on an overland trip. She'll get that from post nine. Brought to you by the Velazquez/Weaver jockey/trainer team that, in three outs in the past seven days, has won twice.
All videos courtesy of Youtube.
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