Askbut I Won'ttell Leads Full Field in Sunday's South Beach
Team Block Stable and Richard Ege’s 5-year-old mare Askbut I Won’ttell and Peter Fuller’s 4-year-old homebred filly Trip for A.J. are among the most accomplished in a full field of 14 fillies and mares drawn for the $60,000 South Beach Stakes to be run at 7 ½ furlongs on turf Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Rajiv Maragh will be aboard Askbut I Won’ttell for trainer Chris Block and will shorten up to the South Beach distance from a respectable fourth-place last out in the 12-furlong Dowager Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 23, following a sharp allowance victory over the Arlington Park course in September.
“She ran very well in the Dowager,” said Block Friday morning from Chicago. “We were trying to see if she could go that far (12 furlongs) to see what options we have for her racing as a 6-year-old next year. It was probably just a little beyond her capability, just too far. We know how reliable she is at the middle distances, but with the big field (14) Sunday, it might be a matter of who gets the best trip.”
A daughter of Horse Chestnut, Askbut I Won’ttell came into South Florida last winter in top form after winning the Cardinal Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs in November and captured the My Charmer Handicap (G3) at Calder in early December. She then ran a big race to finish second by a half-length in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf won by Trip for A.J. here on Jan. 29.
Trip for A.J. comes into Sunday’s race after a sharp second-place finish in this year’s My Charmer at Calder on Nov. 24 when beaten a neck with owner-breeder Fuller’s daughter Abigail Fuller aboard for the first time. The chestnut daughter of Trippi has been highly-versatile and consistent during her career with a 25-10-6-2 record racing on turf and dirt for earnings of $588,000.
Another contender in the South Beach with a good race over the Gulfstream course on her record is Farnsworth Stable’s 5-year-old Speak Easy Gal with jockey Javier Castellano named to ride for trainer Marty Wolfson. The daughter of West Acre posted a wire-to-wire victory in the 12-furlong Orchid Stakes (G3) here in 2010, but her form this season has been spotty, most recently a dull sevent on Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 26.
Completing the body of the field of 14 in Sunday’s race are DATTT Stable’s Exchange Funds, Marathon Stable’s Grecian Maiden, Ninety North Racing Stable’s Crying Lightening, Charles. Chalmer’s Knockinelder, TYB Stable’s Thai Haku, Glen Hill Farm’s Mutually Benefit, Mark Hoffman and partners’ Hooh Why, G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. and partners’ Abuela, Ramona Bass’s Aquitaine, Gary Aiken’s Callmethesqueeze and Alex Rankin and partners’ Sea Road.
Either of the two also-eligibles horses in the race would become solid contenders if they were to draw into the South Beach. Bobby Flay’s 4-year-old filly Countess Lemonade is actually the first call for jockey Javier Castellano over Speak Easy Gal. The daughter of Storm Cat is trained by Todd Pletcher and finished second last out in the Spice Island Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 6.
The other also-eligible is Michel Jean Zerolo’s 3-year-old Louvakhova with Alex Solis named to ride on a second call for trainer Marty Wolfson. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Maria’s Mon was very impressive winning the Frances A. Genter Stakes at Calder on Oct. 15 by four lengths after one win and five seconds in six starts in France to begin her career.