Trainer Kelly Breen has mixed emotions about running multiple graded stakes winner Stonetastic in Saturday’s $ 100,000 Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
On one hand, the 5-year-old is the horse to beat in the sprint race for fillies and mares. On the other, the Sugar Swirl could be the mare’s last race before starting her next career.
“For me it’s very bittersweet that this may be her last race before she goes off to her breeding career,” Breen said. “She’s going to be very much missed around the barn. She’s very fun to be around. She has her own swagger. I think she knows she’s fast.”
Owned by Stoneway Farm, who purchased the daughter of Mizzen Mast at auction for $ 77,000 when she was a yearling, Stonetastic has earned more than $ 800,000 and has a carved out an ultra-consistent record of 8-5-3 in 21 starts.
Stonetastic finished second as the odds-on favorite in last year’s Sugar Swirl. The front-runner’s style was compromised when she failed to secure the early lead after she had to check in traffic shortly after the start. She followed that effort by winning two stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Miami Shores Handicap and the Inside Information (G2). She also finished second this year in the Humana Distaff (G1) at Churchill Downs. She enters the Sugar Swirl following a facile score in the Pumpkin Pie at Belmont Park Oct. 30.
Stonetastic has won from 5 1/2 to seven furlongs, and every distance in between, but Breen said the six-furlong Sugar Swirl just might be her preferred trip.
“She’s won some nice races at seven furlongs, but maybe myself I feel a little bit more confident at six furlongs, and if this happens to be her final hurrah, it’s a pretty good fit,” Breen said.
Paco Lopez, who has ridden Stonetastic in all but six of her 21 starts, has the return assignment from post 5
One of Stonetastic’s five rivals in the Sugar Swirl is You Bought Her, who finished third in the 2015 edition of the race, a nose behind Stonetastic. A winner of nearly $ 500,000, You Bought Her is also winding down her career, and is expected to be bred in 2017 to California Chrome, who is eyeing next month’s $ 12 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park as his swan song before entering stud.
A 6-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Graeme Hall, You Bought Her is trained by the Tampa Bay Downs-based David Hinsley, who also co-owns the mare with his Richard Perkins. Hinsley hopes to use the Sugar Swirl as a springboard to the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park Jan. 21, a race You Bought Her finished second in this year.
“I trained her mother, Striking T, and a bunch of others out of the same mare,” Hinsley said. “We went to the sale and I told my owner, Richard Perkins, that I really liked her and wanted a piece of her. We got her for $ 18,000.”
You Bought Her, the runner-up in the 2015 Inside Information, enters the Sugar Swirl following a second-place finish in the Millions Distaff Preview at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 12.
“She got trapped on the rail and really couldn’t get through,” Hinsley said of her last start. “I thought she was going to win it, but that’s racing luck. She’s a stalker type and will sit off the pace. If the pace is a little slower, she’ll lay a little closer. If the pace is fast, we try to keep up a little, just in case the leader gets away from her. I actually prefer seven-eighths to three-quarters, but it’s what it is.”
John Velazquez, who seeks his seventh victory in the Sugar Swirl, has the mount on You Bought Her, who post 6.
Dearest, three for four at Gulfstream Park, hasn’t raced since finishing second in the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga Race Course in September. Sky Gold, sixth in last year’s Sugar Swirl, is unraced since August when seen winning an optional claimer at Monmouth Park.
Rounding out the field are Danessa Again and Winning for Sarah.
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