Salty made her stakes debut a winning one, taking the Gulfstream Park Oaks under Joel Rosario
Making her first start around two turns, even-money favorite Salty put her connections on the road to the Kentucky Oaks with an impressive 4 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on the Florida Derby day undercard.
Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Joel Rosario, Salty – a 3-year-old filly by Quality Road out of the Dixie Union mare Theycallmeladyluck – had just one filly beat going into the first turn, but made a long sustained run toward the leaders down the backstretch and cruised into the stretch turn in front. She covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.91 after drifting out down the lane while well never threatened. Late-running Tequilita, winner of the G2 Forward Gal last out, got up for second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Jordan’s Henny in third, pace-setter Nonna Bella a neck back in fourth in the field of nine.
“I was a little nervous about it,” said trainer Mark Casse. “Even afterward, Joel said, ‘Maybe I moved a little early.’ But she’s extremely talented as everyone saw today. We’re excited just to have her.”
The Gulfstream Park Oaks was just the third start for Salty, who finished second in her debut Feb. 4 when trained by Ian Wilkes and racing for breeder Chester Prince and Baccari Racing. Gary Barber purchased majority interest in the filly and she was transferred to Casse before her next start, a maiden race March 5 going seven furlongs.
“After her first work for us, we knew we had something pretty special,” said Norman Casse, assistant trainer for his father who confirmed the filly would be pointed for the Kentucky Oaks on May 5.
In the Gulfstream Park Oaks, Nonna Bella set the pace, going :23.26, :46.72 and 1:10.77 through the first six furlongs. Salty was well back into the first turn, then picked off her opponents one by one as she and Rosario made their way down the backstretch. She went into the final turn in a contending position and was in command turning for home, the mile in 1:35.96.
“We were back a little farther than I thought we would be,” Mark Casse said. “You’re always worried when you think a filly would run two turns when you look at her physique and everything, but Joel (Rosario) got her moving three-quarters of a mile out and that’s a long, sustained run.”
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