Cali Star Continues to Sparkle in Grade 3 Rampart
Dec 12, 2015
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Ben Walden Jr. and Larry Taylor’s Cali Star continued to show a liking for her new surroundings in South Florida and trainer Marty Wolfson’s stable at Gulfstream Park Saturday, earning her first graded-stakes victory in the $100,000 Rampart Stakes (G3).
Benefitting from a ground-saving journey under Tyler Gaffalione in the mile stakes for fillies and mares, Cali Star recorded her second straight win since arriving from Kentucky, prevailing over stablemate Best Behavior by three lengths.
Arriving in South Florida with a resume of two wins in 16 starts, the 4-year-old daughter of Street Cry blossomed instantly for Wolfson, scoring a front-running five-length victory in a two-turn mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 18. Saturday, she handled the shift to a one-turn mile with a thoroughly professional performance.
“She likes this track I knew that. When I (first) worked her I was surprised. She had been working slow, but her works have been really strong. She’s run like her works have been,” said Wolfson, who saddled Gamay Noir for a Rampart triumph in 2014.
Her stakes triumph involved much more strategy than in her first local start. Breaking from the No. 1 post position as the 9-5 favorite, Cali Star was positioned on the rail along the backstretch behind the early pace contested by Best Behavior and Pink Poppy, who showed the way to the turn into the homestretch. Best Behavior, the 5-2 second choice ridden by John Velazquez, edged away to lead the eight-horse field in to the stretch, but was quickly joined to her inside by Cali Star, who was taken off the rail just long enough to maneuver around tiring Pink Poppy.
“I just didn’t want Tyler to get stuck with a tiring horse in front of him, but he moved quicker and stayed out of trouble,” Wolfson said.
Best Behavior, who hadn’t run since winning an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream July 17, tried to fight off her stablemate, but Cali Star pulled away late.
“Marty (Wolfson) told me just to get position and, when she was ready, to let her run. She did everything perfect. She wasn’t afraid to be down inside. Last time I rode her she was down on the fence and she was running the whole time. I honestly didn’t really want to be inside there, but my filly was running so good and I did have the inside post, so I didn’t want to give that up,” Gaffalione said. “I held my position and when I asked her, she just ran away. She overcame everything in this race. She’s a really nice filly.”
Cali Star ran the mile in 1:36.3. Best Behavior finished 1 ¾ lengths clear of late-closing third-place finisher Stiffed.
“I was more pleased with the other filly,” Wolfson said of the runner-up, “because she hadn’t run for six months. She was game.”
Wolfson said he’d talk to the owners of Cali Star before deciding upon a next start, noting that Miller Racing’s Best Behavior is expected to be sold in an upcoming sale.