Pletcher Arrives And Wins With First Starter
Sunday's Rainbow 6 Pool $50,000
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL â€“ The Todd Pletcher stable returned to Gulfstream Saturday with its first entrant of the season, picking up just where it left off â€“ with a win.
It came in the ninth race, a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies, a category in which Pletcher has traditionally excelled. Pletcher currently leads the nation in wins with first-time starters and has earned more than $1.2 million with such runners in 2014, $428,768 more than his nearest opponent. On Saturday, the win came with debut runner Sky Limit, who arrived at Gulfstream about a week ago and has been in the care of Pletcherâ€™s assistant trainer Anthony Sciametta. Sciametta, who saddled Sky Limit Saturday while Pletcher is in New York, had not been around Sky Limit much before, but his first impressions of the filly have been very positive.
â€œShe was actually in Saratoga and Belmont most of the time while I was at Monmouth,â€ Sciametta said. â€œSheâ€™s only been with me for a week since she got down here. We did work her one time and she worked well, and [Pletcher] said she was working pretty well up at Saratoga.â€
Sky Limit was far back early after breaking a step slowly, spotting the leaders nine lengths, but jockey Edgard Zayas quickly moved the filly into a stalking position along the rail, where Sky Limit settled in fourth, two lengths off the pace. At the top of the stretch, the filly launched a three-wide bid, and it was then that she began to find her stride, and she rapidly closed in on the leaders. In the final furlong, she found another gear and kicked clear, passing the front-running Little Bit Lovely and drawing off to win by a length.
â€œShe ran big,â€ Sciametta said. â€œShe broke a little slow. I think it was a pretty good race, because breaking like that in the slop â€“ itâ€™s a good race. [Zayas] was finding spots to go, which helped him. She ran well.â€
A daughter of Sky Mesa and the Quiet American mare Special American, Sky Limit certainly has the credentials to be a quality filly. Her half-sister is the stakes winning and graded-stakes placed Montana Native, who has earned almost $400,000 in her still ongoing race career. Her dam earned more than $145,000 and has produced five winners from six foals to race.
However, Sky Limit is the first of Special Americanâ€™s offspring to win at first asking.
Sky Limit ($1.90) covered the six furlongs in 1:13.31. Little Bit Lovely paid $18.00 to place, while Lastingfriendships, a neck behind the runner-up in third, returned $4.50 to show.
Gato Del Cielo Relishes Slop
The skies opened up Saturday afternoon, dousing Hallandale with inches of rainfall and causing three of the dayâ€™s four grass races to be taken off the turf and moved to a sloppy main track. The surface change and wet conditions did nothing to hamper the 2-year-old Gato Del Cielo, however, who skipped through the mud in the eighth race, a maiden special weight for freshman fillies. The daughter of Tale of the Cat and the Red Ransom mare Matroshka (IRE) rated just off the pace in the five-furlong contest before making a three-wide move at the top of the stretch and drawing off to win by 2 Â¾ lengths under jockey Jesus Rios. The win was the first of the day to come from off the pace after there appeared to be a speed bias earlier in the day due to the sloppy going. The fifth, six, and seventh races were all won by horses on or near the lead, but that did not affect winning trainer Ralph Nicksâ€™ strategy in the least.
â€œI told Jesus not to get in a hurry,â€ Nicks said. â€œItâ€™s not all about one race with them. We try to make them have a future.â€
Nicks was similarly not concerned about the slop.
â€œI thought [she would like it],â€ he said. â€œSheâ€™s been training very well.â€
Gato Del Cielo came in to Saturdayâ€™s race off a third-place effort in her career debut on August 17, which was contested on the turf. The filly closed from five-wide that day to get up for the show. Nicks expected her to improve off that performance.
â€œSheâ€™s a nice little filly,â€ he said. â€œShe was green the first time she ran. I kind of used it for experience more than anything. She was a little overzealous. But she ran well today. She moved forward and was a lot more professional.â€
Gato Del Cielo ran the five furlongs in 59.55 (seconds), paying $3.50 to win. Miaâ€™s Rainbow ($3.20) was second, and Catfight Cowgirl ($2.40) was third.
Whoâ€™s Hot: Trainer Marcus Vitali and jockey Orlando Bocachica teamed up for a racing double on the day. The duo won the opener with Fan Base ($8.20) and the seventh with Blings Express ($10.60). Bocachica has won seven races in the last five racing days; four of those wins came aboard Vitali-trained horses.
Leading rider Edgard Zayas also piloted home two winners. In addition to riding Sky Limit to victory in the eighth, he also took the fifth with Broncojoenvinny ($1.20).
Jockey Arny Fontanez, the leading apprentice rider at Gulfstream, took off his final two mounts Saturday afternoon, bypassing the ninth and eleventh due to an illness. He is expected to return to ride Sunday.
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