After Dogwood Trail avenged a loss to Huasca in the Tangelo Handicap June 6 with a victory in the Azalea (G3) July 5, the rivalry was just starting to heat up when the two talented 3-year-old fillies went in different directions. The Stanley Gold-trained Dogwood Trail went on to capture the $150,000 Three Ring Division of the Florida Sire Stakes Aug. 8, while the Efren Loza Jr.-trained Huasca finished second in her turf debut in the five-furlong Summer Winds Stakes Aug.16.
“We didn’t have a race for her for 60 days. The only races were for Florida-breds and she’s a Kentucky-bred. So I talked to the owner about trying her on turf and see what happens,” Loza said. “I think she’s a better filly on dirt at seven furlongs or a mile, but she ran very, very good in her last race.”
Huasca is set for a return to the main track and Dogwood Trail is headed back to open stakes company Sunday, when they’ll renew their rivalry in the $75,000 Uanme Stakes, a seven-furlong feature for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park. Dogwood Trail was rated as the 9-5 morning-line favorite over Huasca at 2-1.
Huasca showed her talent right from the start, capturing her debut by nearly 10 lengths last October at Gulfstream Park West. The daughter of Tiz Wonderful truly blossomed this spring when she shipped to Pimlico to finish second in the six-furlong Miss Preakness (G3) at Pimlico. She returned to Gulfstream to defeat Dogwood Trail in the seven-furlong Tangelo by a length before checking in second 1 ¼ lengths behind the Jacks or Better Farm homebred in the seven-furlong Azalea (G3). In her turf debut at five furlongs, she was forced to race four wide from her No. 10 post position and made the lead in mid-stretch, only to fall a half-length short of holding off Stonestreet Stables’ Katie’s Kiss.
“Every horse is different, but this filly can run on any distance, any surface. I think that race was a good preparation for this race,” said Loza, who gave the return mount to Eddie Castro.
Dogwood Trail, who has been no worse than second in six Gulfstream Park appearances, captured the seven-furlong Three Ring by a comfortable 2 ¼-length margin over fillies sired by stallions nominated to the Florida Sire Stakes program. The daughter of Awesome of Course was eligible for Saturday’s $150,000 Jewel Princess FSS Division at a mile on turf, but Gold opted for the one-turn Uanme on the main track.
“You could stretch her out and try her on the turf, but why try those things now when the horse is doing so good?” said Gold, whose named Jesus Rios to ride Dogwood Trail.
Hendricks and Justice’s Naval Command, rated third in the morning line at 7-2, was a stakes winner on turf at Louisiana Downs last fall and completed a 2-year-old campaign with a solid fifth-place finish in the Alcibiadies (G1) over Keeneland’s main track. The Bill Kaplan-trained filly made her 2015 debut against older fillies and mares during a sixth-place finish in the Princess Rooney (G2) July 5. The daughter of Midshipman returned to action with a fourth-place finish against males in the Jackson Bend Aug. 8.
“She’s doing very well. She’ll be tough,” Kaplan said. “Now, she’s with her own kind.”
Savingtime, second behind Dogwood Trail in the Three Ring; R Sassy Lass, fourth in the Three Ring; Distinta, second behind Flutterby in the Gold Mover Aug. 22; and Holywell, who won two legs of the Florida Sire Stakes last year; round out a competitive seven-horse field.