The Meadow Star is one of six stakes worth $1.45 million carded for Saturday’s 12-race closing day program at Gulfstream Park that includes the $500,000 Florida Sire Stakes In Reality and My Dear Girl divisions for juveniles.
Having won the Azalea (G3) in July on the Summit of Speed program, Dogwood Trail is the only filly in the Meadow Star field to have won a graded stakes race, but the daughter of Awesome of Course has never raced beyond seven furlongs. She also enters the race off just the second off-the-board finish of her career – and first ever at Gulfstream – after finishing fourth behind the Efren Loza-trained Huasca in the Uanme Stakes on Sept. 5. Still, the speedy chestnut’s record speaks for itself: four wins and two seconds from eight starts for earnings of almost $275,000. The last time she failed to finish first or second - when she finished fourth in the Sophomore Fillies Stakes at Tampa in April - she returned to miss by a narrow margin in June’s Tangelo Handicap before posting back-to-back stakes victories in the Three Ring division of the Sire Stakes and the Azalea.
“She came out of the [Uanme] well, and she’s doing good. We’re hoping for something better this time,” trainer Stanley Gold said. “The couple of times we ran against Loza’s filly, when she was on the lead and we were stalking, we did well, and when we were on the lead and he was stalking, he did well. We kind of got caught up in the speed last time and I think maybe we emptied the tank too soon and too hard going 1:09 and change (for six furlongs). It wasn’t [jockey Jesus Rios’s] fault; it just worked out that way. Loza’s horse just sat on the outside and went and got us. Of course, this is a whole different ball game now with 1 1/16 mile.”
Distance, not ability, is the only unknown with Dogwood Trail, but her pedigree suggests the routing distance of the Meadow Star should be well within her realm. While Awesome of Course never won beyond six furlongs, Dogwood Trail’s dam Ladyinareddress, by Tactical Advantage, broke her maiden at 1 1/16 mile and also won the Office Queen Stakes at that distance in 2004. Dogwood Trail’s full sister Redbud Road was also stakes-placed when racing a route of ground.
“Obviously she’s got the sprint speed, so can we relax her enough and keep her back enough to finish? I don’t know; that’s what we’re going to see,” Gold said. “With all these races Saturday, going a distance of ground is going to be interesting.”
“She’s trained forwardly for it. She’s done everything I’ve wanted her to do, so I wouldn’t change anything coming into it,” he added. “We’ll just see if she can make the distance with the same quality that she had before.”
Only two fillies in the Meadow Star field have previous experience at the 1 1/16- mile distance. Holywell won the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl division of the Florida Sire Stakes as a 2-year-old; the Bill Kaplan-trained Moment of Delight was second that day. The three remaining entrants will also be trying the distance for the first time. Savingtime, trained by Vaughan Heard, has never raced beyond seven furlongs but may boast the best recent form of the field. She was runner-up in the Uanme, ahead of Dogwood Trail, after also finishing second in the Three Ring, just behind her. The Marcus Vitali-trained Mom’z Laugh enters the Meadow Star off a claiming win at Saratoga. Maiden Sweet Madea completes the field.