Gulfstream Park - The 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River for fillies and mares 4 and older on the grass is one of the oldest stakes on the Gulfstream calendar, first run in 1947 and predated by only the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2, 1945) and the $100,000 Mr. Prospector (G3, 1946).
In its 71st year, the Suwannee River shares top billing on a 12-race program with the 31st running of the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) for 4-year-olds and up, also at nine furlongs. First race post time is noon.
John Oxley's Grade 1-winning homebred Dream Dancing, beaten as the favorite in her 4-year-old debut last month, will face fellow graded winners Ultra Brat, Kitten's Roar and Midnight Crossing as she seeks a return to her winning ways in the $150,000 Suwannee River Stakes Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
2018 Suwannee River Stakes Odds & Entries
Race 10 on Gulfstream Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:43 PM
|1||Westit (GB)||20-1||Edgard Zayas||H. Motion|
|2||Beauly (GB)||15-1||Feargal Lynch||Brendan Walsh|
|3||Midnight Crossing (IRE)||6-1||Emisael Jaramillo||Richard Baltas|
|4||Flipcup||15-1||Tyler Gaffalione||William Mott|
|5||Dream Dancing||9-2||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse|
|6||Ultra Brat||8-1||Nik Juarez||H. Motion|
|7||Dream Awhile||10-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Chad Brown|
|8||Elysea's World (IRE)||7-2||Javier Castellano||Chad Brown|
|9||Kitten's Roar||2-1||Luis Saez||Michael Maker|
Dream Dancing had won both of her previous starts at Gulfstream last winter including her first career stakes victory in the Herecomesthebride (G3), going on to capture the Del Mar Oaks (G1) five months later.
She had gone unraced for three months following an off-the-board finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) heading into the Marshua's River (G3) Jan. 13 at Gulfstream, where she stalked a slow pace before making a late bid on the outside to be second, 1 ¾ lengths behind Ultra Brat.
"She had a good work the other day and she's had a good month since her previous start. I think she was a little pace compromised last time, and I think she'll run a much better race this time," said Norm Casse, son an assistant to trainer Mark Casse who will be going out on his own at the end of Gulfstream's Championship Meet in April.
"I think we had her ready. A lot of times we get disappointed if I didn't think we had her ready. We had her ready, it was more of a bad pace scenario for her and we'll learn from our mistake," he added. "It's going to be a tough race. They're always tough races but she's doing well and she always seems to run well when she's doing well, so we've got a lot of confidence going into the race."
Regular rider Julien Leparoux, who was out of town riding for Team Casse for her previous start, returns aboard Dream Dancing from Post 5 of nine at co-topweight of 123 pounds.
Ultra Brat has won each of her two career starts at Gulfstream dating back to the Tropical Park Oaks in December 2016. The 5-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo didn't race again until finishing fourth in the six-furlong Autumn Keys in November at Aqueduct, and stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for her professional Marshua's Key score.
Though the first three of her five lifetime wins came at sprint distances, Ultra Brat's most recent wins have been over a route of ground and both in stakes. The Suwannee River will be her longest test to date.
"I think she's run two big races when she's run at Gulfstream which kind of makes me reluctant to take her anywhere else. I do worry a little bit about the mile and an eighth," trainer Graham Motion said. "I'm not sure that's something she's looking to do but perhaps she has a better chance at getting a mile and an eighth at Gulfstream where it's kind of fast and firm.
"I don't really particularly see anything that makes me think she won't; I always thought of her as more of a sprinting-type earlier and she won sprinting," he added. "I'm just slightly suspect about it but you never know until you try it, right?"
Motion also entered Wertheimer and Frere's English-bred Tapit mare Westit, the 1 1/16-mile Tropical Park Oaks runner-up in December coming off a seventh-place finish in the 7 ½-furlong South Beach Jan. 27 at Gulfstream.
"I just think 7 ½ was a little too quick for her last race and she's likely to go to the breeding shed. We felt that she was doing well we might try one more time to win a stake with her," Motion said. "I think the mile and an eighth suits her. She ran very well going a mile and a sixteenth to run second but I thought last time she just kind of got run off her feet going 7 ½."
Nick Juarez, up for her win in the Marshua's River, has the return call on Ultra Brat from Post 6, while Edgard Zayas is named on Westit from Post 1.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Kitten's Roar will make her 6-year-old debut in the Suwannee River, her first race since running eighth in the one-mile Matriarch (G1) Nov. 26 at Del Mar. She became a graded winner in her previous start, a 2 ¼-length triumph in the Goldikova (G2) run at the same track and distance.
Kitten's Roar finished in the money in six of nine starts and earned $563,655 in 2017, also finishing second in the E.P. Taylor (G1) last fall at Woodbine and beaten 1 ½ lengths when fourth in the Jenny Wiley (G1) last spring.
"We just wanted to freshen her up a little bit. She had a hard campaign and we wanted to give her a little bit of time," trainer Mike Maker said. "She showed up every time we ran her. She ran into some tough ones and she got unlucky to lose a couple but overall it was a nice year."
Championship Meet-leading rider Luis Saez has the assignment on Kitten's Roar from Post X. She has run at 11 tracks in her 20 lifetime starts and returns to Gulfstream for just the second time since winning her career debut in April 2015 for previous trainer Chad Brown.
"She's very professional and handles everything in stride. I'd like to have a barn full of them, that's for sure," Maker said. "She's run well at a mile and eighth in the past and I have no reason to think she won't again. I think if she can get a stalking position I think that's more favorable for her. She's very professional and you can place her wherever you need her."
Brown, who won the Suwannee River in 2016 with Tammy the Torpedo and 2010 with Tottie, entered both Dream Awhile and Elysea's World. Dream Awhile won the Tropical Park Oaks Dec. 30 in her second North American start, while Elysea's World went winless in nine starts last year including a runner-up finish behind Grade 1 winner Dickinson in the Suwannee River.
Completing the field are stakes winner Beauly, most recently fifth in the La Prevoyante (G3) Jan. 27 at Gulfstream; multiple graded-stakes placed Flipcup and California-based Midnight Crossing, winner of the Robert J. Frankel (G3) over Elysea's World Dec. 30 at Santa Anita.