Curtis Mikkelsen’s Cajun Delta Dawn has exceeded expectations in the first three starts of her career, bringing a perfect record into Saturday’s $ 300,000 Susan’s Girl Division of the Florida Sire Stakes (FSS) at Gulfstream Park.
The 2-year-old daughter of Kantharos has even surprised trainer David Fawkes somewhat by the manner in which she has won her first three races while being taken lightly by the bettors.
“She’s a very unassuming horse,” Fawkes said. “You would not guess that she would be as good as she has been.”
Cajun Delta Dawn was hardly viewed as a can’t-miss prospect prior to making her debut, unlike her counterpart in Saturday’s co-featured $ 300,000 Affirmed Division, Three Rules, who is also undefeated in three career starts. Yet, she has found a way to win each time she has taken to Gulfstream’s main track.
The Florida-bred filly may be unassuming around the barn, but she has been a most assertive filly while guided on the racetrack by jockey Juan Leyva.
In her June 10 debut, she dueled with the 3-5 favorite and gutted it out to prevail by a neck at 5-1 in a five-furlong maiden special weight race. Sent to post as a 18-1 longshot for the 4 ½-furlong Cassidy Stakes July 2, Cajun Delta Dawn saved ground while stalking the pace before driving along the rail to score by a half-length. In the six-furlong $ 200,000 FSS Desert Vixen Aug. 6, the 3-1 second choice chased the early pacesetters before launching an outside drive that carried her to another game victory by a neck.
“You never have to worry about her in a race. She’s not rank. She’s not chicken racing inside,” said Fawkes, who has enjoyed considerable success in the FSS series, including Big Drama’s sweep in 2008. “Juan can do anything he wants.”
Leyva has the return mount for the seven-furlong Susan’s Girl, which attracted a field of seven fillies, including sharp debut winner Sweet Tooth Haven.
Owned by Pinnacle Racing Stable’s, the daughter of Vineyard Haven turned in an eye-catching performance on Aug. 20, leading throughout a six-furlong maiden special weight race to score by 4 ¾ lengths in a swift 1:10.70 under a confident ride by Edgard Zayas.
“She’s just quick, plain quick, but she’s not crazy quick. She’ll do whatever we want. She was in front and was good enough to stay there and was wrapped up at the wire,” said trainer Stanley Gold. “There will be plenty of speed in this race, there always his, because most of these horses have been wire-to-wire (winners). But she’ll listen to whatever Edgard wants her to do, so she’s going to be a threat.”
Gold, who has saddled a record 18 Florida Sire Stakes juvenile winners, has given the return mount to Zayas.
Stonehedge LLC’s Lu Lu Laura and Sandra Trotter’s U S Diva, who finished second and third, respectively, in the Desert Vixen, are set for a return to FSS action.
Trained by Kathleen O’Connell, Lu Lu Laura earned a debut victory by disqualification after finishing a distant second behind Amapola, who broke the track record for 4 ½ furlongs before being placed sixth for early interference in the May 25 race. Lu Lu Laura made strong strides forward in the Desert Vixen, in which she set the pace to deep stretch before succumbing to Cajun Delta Dawn. Eduardo Nunez has the return mount.
The Daniel Pita-trained U S Diva debuted with a front running triumph by 1 ¾ lengths July 2 before closing well to finish third in the Desert Vixen, 1 ¼ lengths behind Lu Lu Laura. Jesus Rios is slated to ride the daughter of United States.
Matalona Thoroughbreds’ Stormy Embrace, Christian Maingot and Jose Pinchin’s Savanna’s Smile, and Rohan Crichton and Paul Haddad’s Hello Juliet round out the field.
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