Toasting Looks for Redemption in Sunshine Millions Distaff

December 10, 2019

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – In her three-year race career, West Point Thoroughbreds’ Toasting has displayed moments of brilliance, winning the Dream Rush Stakes over now multiple graded stakes winner Merry Meadow, running head to head with the highly regarded Wedding Toast in the Comely Stakes (G3), and earning her way into the starting gate in three Grade 1 events.

But the 5-year-old mare might be as difficult to read as she is talented. Scattered among her stakes wins and graded stakes placings are well-beaten efforts in both graded and ungraded races, including a puzzling sixth place finish in last September’s Beldame (G1) at Belmont Park, a race in which she was beaten by 12 lengths after she won the Sky Beauty Stakes over the same racetrack just three weeks earlier.

Trainer Tom Albertrani, who has campaigned Toasting from day one, has learned his mare’s quirks, and he hopes she will run to her capabilities when she goes to the gate in Saturday’s $150,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park.

“You have to catch her at the right time,” Albertrani said. “She’s a filly that just goes in and out of form, but when she’s doing good, she’s really on her game. I think I’m seeing that now. She’s run some really good races in the past, and hopefully she’ll be on her game [this weekend].”

Toasting finished third in last year’s running of the Distaff, and redemption will be on the line Saturday following a promising third-place effort in the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (G3) on Oct. 26 at Belmont Park. Albertrani gave the daughter of Congrats some time off after that start and is encouraged by the way she has conducted herself since.

“She’s training really well,” Albertrani said. “We gave her a little time off, but she’s training as well as I’d expect her to coming into this race.”

Albertrani believes distance will be another advantage for Toasting. Last year, the Distaff was run at 1 1/8 miles; this year, it will be contested at 7 furlongs, a distance at which Toasting won a Gulfstream allowance last March.

“Ever since we cut her back in distance, I think her best races have been more at 7/8ths,” he said. “I think that’s going to help her. She won over this track last year going 7/8ths. Over all, I’m really pleased with her.”

Trainer Marty Wolfson, known for his success with fillies and mares, comes loaded into the Distaff with four entrants. Most accomplished among the group is the 7-year-old My Pal Chrisy, a veteran of 47 starts who has earned more than $850,000. My Pal Chrisy, a daughter of Alex’s Pal, did not finish worse than third in 2014 while running exclusively in stakes, including the Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream and the Distaff Handicap (G2) at Aqueduct in April. She has not run since that start.

“She’s doing good,” Wolfson said. “She turns seven this year, and that’s why I gave her some time off. She wasn’t sweating that good, and I wanted to give her the summer off. She’s been running good. It was a huge season. I just think she would have won a Grade 2. [In the Inside Information], she was beaten two [lengths], but she should have won that day. She drew inside and she didn’t break real quick.”

Swinger’s Party won the prep race for the Distaff, the Sunshine Millions Distaff Preview at Gulfstream Park West, on Nov. 8. The 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro ran just three times in 2014 and has been pointing specifically for this race.

“I run her very sparingly,” Wolfson said, “and after she won at [Gulfstream West], I waited for this.”

Dreamlicious and Golden Production round out the Wolfson quartet. Dreamlicious enters the Distaff off a strong second-place finish in an allowance on Dec. 26 behind fellow Wolfson trainee and multiple stakes-placed runner Centrique, who followed up that victory with another on Jan. 9. Dreamlicious finished fifth in last year’s Distaff. Golden Production, winner of last January’s Paseana Stakes at Santa Anita, makes the turf-to-dirt move after contesting the Wasted Tears stakes on the grass at Gulfstream in September.

Wolfson and Miller Racing, LLC, owners of all four of Wolfon’s starters, specialize in scouting and purchasing fillies and mares, getting them black-type stakes wins, and re-selling them. Some or all of their Distaff starters may be catalogued in the upcoming Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed Sale in Lexington, set to take place on February 8-9.

“We’re going to be selling a bunch in February,” Wolfson said. “I don’t know if [Dreamlicious] is going to go or not, but about 10 of the mares we have are going to go. We just have to decide which ones.”

The Sunshine Millions was expanded in 2015 to include Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania breds in addition to horses bred in Florida. In addition to Golden Production, who was bred in Pennsylvania, Girlaboutown, Tapit’s World, and Dame Dorothy are the other Distaff entrants who were bred outside of the Sunshine State. Girlaboutown, a New York bred and trainee of Mark Hushion, will make her stakes debut in the Distaff after impressively taking an allowance by 5 lengths at Belmont Park on Nov. 20. The daughter of A.P. Indy is three-for-five lifetime and won her only start at 7 furlongs, an allowance at Saratoga in August. Dame Dorothy, winner of the Turnback the Alarm over Toasting, most recently ran third in the Comely (G3) at Aqueduct. She was cross entered in both the Sunshine Millions Distaff and the Filly and Mare Turf.

Wildcat Lily, most recently second in the Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream on Dec. 13 to Merry Meadow, was also entered in the Distaff for trainer Everton Harris. Other runners include Grade 2 winner Devil’s Cave, who finished fifth in the Sunshine Millions Distaff Preview Stakes following a seven-month layoff; and Flutterby, second in both the Distaff Preview and Golden Beach stakes. Puddifoot and Sheer Drama round out the field.

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