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G3 Winner Morticia Makes Return in $75,000 Captiva Island

Mar 7, 2018
Defending Champion Pretty Perfection Also Among Field of 10 

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Morticia, who first tasted success last winter in South Florida before going on to become a Grade 3 winner, returns to Gulfstream Park to make her 4-year-old debut in Saturday’s $75,000 Captiva Island.

The fourth running of the Captiva Island for fillies and mares 4 and older and the $75,000 Silks Run for 4-year-olds and up, both at five furlongs on turf, highlight a program that begins at noon.

A competitive field of 10 was entered for the Captiva Island including defending champion Pretty Perfection, Canadian Grade 3 winner Jennifer Lynnette and the top two finishers from the Ladies Turf Sprint Jan. 27 in Girls Know Best and runner-up Just Talkin.

Bred by Humphrey and trainer Rusty Arnold, Morticia was moved to the turf to kick off her sophomore season last January, one-length victory going five furlongs that prompted Arnold to bring the daughter of Twirling Candy back in the Melody of Colors, where she led all the way to win by three-quarters of a length.

Second in the Appalachian (G3) in her subsequent start, Morticia went on to win her next three races at three different tracks in New York and Maryland, all in stakes, at distances of 5 ½ to seven furlongs. Her streak was snapped when third after disputing the pace in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint.

“She won on every track she ran on last year except Kentucky Downs, so it’s not like she picks her spots,” Arnold said. “She got beat at Keeneland in the spring and came back and won there in the fall. She won at Belmont, Saratoga and Laurel so I’ll think she’ll run on anything. But, she likes it here, she started here and it’s a good place to get her going.”

Morticia capped the year with a half-length triumph in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (G3) Oct. 13 at Keeneland, earning a vacation after winning six of eight starts and $366,155 in purses. She has been working steadily at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, for her comeback.

“You’ve got few opportunities to win a graded race with that type of horse and it was nice to get it done,” Arnold said. “She’s doing good. We gave her about two months off on the farm after Keeneland by design and we just didn’t have her ready for the [Ladies Turf Sprint]. We’ve got limited opportunities with these races; there just aren’t a lot of them. Although we missed the first one it gave us plenty of time for the second one, she’s trained steadily to it and we’re anxious to get her running for her 4-year-old year.”

Tyler Gaffalione will be aboard for the first time from Post 8 at topweight of 123 pounds.

Stoneway Farm homebred Pretty Perfection swept the Ladies Turf Sprint and Captiva Island last winter as part of a three-race win streak for trainer Kelly Breen. The 6-year-old mare has won two of 10 starts since and suffered her first local loss when fifth by 1 ¾ lengths following a wide trip in the Ladies Turf Sprint in January.

“We just need to get a little bit luckier and have a good trip. She’s training well, all is going good, she’s healthy and ready to perform,” Breen said. “With these short races on the turf, the races are very competitive and I think that you have to get the trip. If we get the trip, I think we have a good chance of winning.

“She’s training well, she’s doing well, she came out of the last race in good order and I’m excited to run her,” he added. “It’s her home track, she likes the track and she’s run well on it before so I’m eager to see her run on Saturday.”

Regular rider Nik Juarez has the call from Post 2 at 119 pounds.

Girls Know Best was pressed while setting a fast pace in the five-furlong Ladies Turf Sprint but was resolute racing on the inside and won by three-quarters of a length over Just Talkin, who edged Cherry Lodge by a neck for second.

The 4-year-old Caleb’s Posse filly was caught late after leading for most the way and was second to Grade 3 winner Code Warrior in the Abundantia Stakes Jan. 1, her third start and first on the grass since being claimed by Brian Chenvert and trainer Eddie Kenneally for $40,000 last fall at Keeneland.

“She’s doing phenomenal. She’s doing really, really well. She loves the Gulfstream Park turf course,” Kenneally said. “She’s really taken to it. She’s only run twice on the grass and those were her two races, the win and the second in stakes.”

“She didn’t break fast the last time,” he added. “She was in Post 1 and she didn’t break real sharp and in an instant she was on the lead. She’s naturally fast and that’s her biggest weapon, I think.”

Girls Know Best won on the dirt in the first start for her new connections last November but wasn’t taken for the $50,000 tag and was shipped to Florida where Kenneally decided to make the surface switch.

“She had a great record when we claimed her. She was a 3-year-old filly that had won several races at the time and she was just a very solid filly so we took a shot,” he said. “We were just looking for a hard-knocking, sound horse and that’s what we got.”

Championship Meet-leading rider and defending champion Luis Saez has been named to ride from outside Post 10 at 121 pounds.

Conrad Farms’ Jennifer Lynnette is entered to make her U.S. debut in her first start since last July, when she captured the Royal North (G3) going six furlongs on the grass. Trained by Canadian Hall of Famer Mark Casse to 10 top three finishes in 11 races, this would be her first start away from Woodbine.

Stakes winners Always Thinking and Blue Bahia; Goldwood, a winner of her last two races at the course and distance for trainer Alan Goldberg; multiple stakes-placed Jumby Bay and Blue Bahia stablemate Sylphide complete the field.

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