Juveniles Ballet Diva, Rafting Take Stakes On Closing Day At Gulfstream West
Nov 28, 2015
MIAMI GARDENS, FL
- Ballet Diva and Rafting proved a pair of juveniles worth watching come the Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park after winning stakes races Saturday on closing day at Gulfstream West.
Jacks or Better Farm’s homebred filly Ballet Diva, who won the Cassidy and Susan’s Girl Division of the Florida Sire Stakes over the summer at Gulfstream Park, put away the heavy favorite Brandy’s Girl around the turn and then held off Dad’s Kiddo down the stretch to win the $75,000 House Party at six furlongs.
Approximately an hour later, Werthheimer and Frere’s Rafting, a chestnut son of Tapit who broke his maiden at Saratoga in September for trainer Graham Motion, held off Sire Stakes winner Fellowship down the stretch to win the Smooth Air at a mile.
Breaking from the seven post, Ballet Diva, trained by Stanley Gold and ridden by Jose Caraballo stalked Brandy’s Girl, who broke from the rail, past a :22.19 opening quarter. Around the final turn, however, Ballet Diva galloped past a tiring Brandy’s Girl and had plenty left down the stretch to hold off Dad’s Kiddo while covering six furlongs in 1:11.96.
“We sat just a little off, stalking…we had that advantage on the outside which you don’t get breaking from rail,” Gold said. ”That was good. I thought if she’s good enough there will be no excuses from there.”
Ballet Diva was making her first start since finishing sixth as the favorite Oct. 3 in the 1 1/16 mile In Reality division of the Sire Stakes. Gold believes the daughter of Hear No Evil, whose victory in the Susan’s Girl came at seven furlongs, can cover more distance.
“As long as it’s one turn we’ll be OK,” he said. "The mile at Gulfstream is a one turn race. She just showed now she doesn’t need the lead. I didn’t tell (Caraballo) to do that, he chose to stalk. The Old Hat (G3) is coming up (Jan. 2)."
In the $75,000 Smooth Air, Rafting was brushed at the start under jockey Edgar Prado and then went five wide entering the first turn. "It wasn't the prettiest trip, especially the first couple jumps," Prado admitted. "The horse came over and I had to steady a little, and then he tried to get out a little."
After settling second behind fractions of :24.82 and :49.75 set by the pacesetter American Phantom, Rafting took the lead leaving the half-mile pole and had plenty left to repel the closing Fellowship. Rafting covered the mile in 1:40 while making his first start since finishing third in a 1 1/16 mile allowance event Oct. 17 at Keeneland.
David Rock, assistant to Motion, admitted he was a bit concerned when he saw Rafting go five-wide into the first turn, "but I always figured he'd be the right horse. He just relaxed after that."