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Nonna Madeline (9-2) didn't get any breaks in her most recent start, but with a good break the Todd Pletcher trainee should prove tough to beat in the Grade 3, $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 14.
Nonna Madeline was partly responsible for her third-place finish in the Jan. 25 Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream by leaving the starting gate slowly, but the 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride was valiant in defeat despite having to be steadied on the backstretch.
"She didn't get away well, but I thought she closed pretty strongly at the end," Pletcher said. "We've been pointing for this race since then."
Race 11 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 14 - Post 5:52 PM
|3||Unholy Alliance||12-1||Tyler Gaffalione
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.|
|4||W W Fitzy||15-1||Marcos Meneses
|5||Sally's Curlin||6-1||Edgar Prado
|6||Nonna Madeline||9-2||John Velazquez
|7||Wildwood's Beauty||4-1||Julien Leparoux
|9||Lady Kate||8-1||Jose Ortiz
Nonna Madeline made an auspicious debut at Belmont Park in June 2018, scoring a 3 ¼-length victory over Jaywalk, the John Servis-trained filly who went on to win four straight, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and an Eclipse Award. Nonna Madeline went on to finish second in the Schuylerville (G3) before finishing off the board in her final two starts of her 2-year-old season.
After being sidelined for 14 months, Nonna Madeline captured a Dec. 30 optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park by 5 ½ lengths while prepping for the Inside Information.
"Knock on wood, hopefully, she's setting up to have a good year," Pletcher said.
Nonna Madeline, who will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, is slated to face eight older fillies and mares in the seven-furlong sprint that will headline a 12-race card.
Sally's Curlin is scheduled to make her 2020 debut in the Hurricane Bertie for CJ Thoroughbreds, Left Turn Racing LLC and Casner Racing LLC.
The 4-year-old daughter of Curlin came into her own last year, capturing three races in a row, following up a pair of optional claiming allowances wins with a victory in the Chilukki (G3) at Churchill Downs in November. She finished off her sophomore campaign with an off-the-board finish in the Falls City (G2) Nov. 26.
"We gave her a little time and feel like this is her year," trainer Dale Romans said. "She's grown up and matured."
Hall of Famer Edgar Prado has been named to ride the late-running Sally's Curlin.
Owner William Stiritz and trainer Scott Becker are represented by a pair of entries for the Hurricane Bertie, Wildwood's Beauty and W W Fitzy.
Wildwood's Beauty finished ahead of Nonna Madeline while earning runner-up honors in the Inside Information, which was won by Pink Sands. The ultra-consistent 4-year-old daughter of Kantharos, who has finished first or second in 11 of 12 career starts, closed from off the pace to enter serious contention before falling victim to Pink Sands' furiously stretch kick.
W W Fitzy, who has won four of her last five starts, is coming off a front-running optional claiming allowance victory at Gulfstream Park.
Julien Leparoux has the return mount aboard Wildwood's Beauty, while Marcos Meneses will be back aboard W W Fitzy.
Cleber Massey's Blamed enters the Hurricane Bertie off a Feb. 6 optional claiming allowance victory at Gulfstream, rebounding nicely from a disappointing 12th-place finish in the Inside Information. The Bill Mott-trained 5-year-old daughter of Blame is a multiple graded-stakes winner, having captured the 2019 Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream, as well as the 2019 Comely (G3) at Aqueduct.
Tyler Gaffalione has the call aboard Blamed.
Mary and Chester Broman's Pauseforthecause, who came into her own last fall, is scheduled to make her graded-stakes debut in the Hurricane Bertie and her first start at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway most recently finished third over a sloppy track in the Jan. 4 La Verdad at Aqueduct following three victories in a row, including back-to-back stakes wins.
Paco Lopez has the mount aboard the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee.
My Purple Haze Stables LLC's Heiressall, who finished second behind Wildwood's Beauty before finishing third in a recent optional claiming allowance; Anderson Stables LLC's Lady Kate, who is coming off impressive back-to-back optional claiming allowance wins at Gulfstream; and e Five Racing Thoroughbreds' Unholy Alliance, a recent optional claiming allowance winner at Gulfstream; round out the field.
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