HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – After impressively winning the $100,000 Desert Vixen Stakes, the opening leg of the filly division of the Florida Sire Stakes, by a widening 4 ¾ lengths, Jacks or Better Farm’s Leap Year Luck likely assured herself a position of favoritism in the series’ second leg, the $250,000 Susan’s Girl, this Saturday at Gulfstream.
Having the favorite is more than enough to make a trainer feel good about his chances, but Stanley Gold has the right to be more than confident leading up to the Susan’s Girl. In addition to Leap Year Luck, Gold will also be armed with two other strong contenders, Standard Deal and Awesome Ice.
The Susan's Girl will be one of 12 races on Gulfstream's Saturday program with a special first race post of 12:50 p.m.
Standard Deal may in fact be the morning line’s second choice, having been runner-up to Leap Year Luck in the Desert Vixen. After reviewing his fillies’ last race, Gold believes Standard Deal’s performance was more encouraging than what the numbers may indicate at face value in the racing form. Standard Deal got hooked up in a speed duel with the precocious Katie’s Kiss in the Desert Vixen, and the two ran through a quick opening quarter in 22.09 seconds and a half-mile in 45.15. Standard Deal separated herself from Katie’s Kiss at the eighth pole, but after enduring a rough stretch duel, the filly did not have quite enough left to hold off her fast-closing stablemate.
“Actually, the race was even more impressive than if you just look on paper, because they were legitimate, hard fractions, and she held up well and was able to put away the one horse she was with and hang on for second,” Gold said. “My other horse Leap Year Luck actually benefited by it, but that was not a poor race by Standard Deal.”
Awesome Ice is the third member of Gold’s trio. The 2-year-old daughter of Awesome of Course and the Distorted Humor mare Diamondaire may have taken three starts to break her maiden, but she has yet to run worse than second. She got her first victory on August 2, emerging from a stretch-long duel to win a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight by 1 ¾ lengths.
“Awesome Ice ran so big from off the pace, and she looks like she belongs in there,” Gold said. “She’ll like the extra furlong. All three of them are going to run their own race, so we’ll see how it turns out.”
Pinnacle Racing Stable, LLC and Norman Stables, LLC’s Moment of Delight also looks like she belongs after scoring her maiden win on August 16. Trained by Bill Kaplan, the daughter of A.P. Warrior and Sweetness, by Stormy Atlantic, opened eyes when she professionally made a three-wide bid from off the pace to take her career debut by 4 ½ lengths.
“I thought it was a great performance,” Kaplan said. “It wasn’t unexpected. She has a wonderful mind, and I’m not concerned about the additional distance.”
Fernando Jara will get the mount aboard Moment of Delight in the Susan’s Girl. After riding her to her maiden victory, Juan Leyva will miss the second leg of the Sire Stakes to ride another Kaplan trainee, Ohio Derby winner East Hall, in this weekend’s Super Derby in Louisiana.
“I expect (Moment of Delight) to run well,” Kaplan said. “Obviously it’s a big leap up from a maiden race to facing these horses, but I expect she’ll run good. She’s very professional.”
Trainer David Fawkes adds more depth to the Susan’s Girl with Hangover Saturday, an impressive maiden winner in her own right. Hangover Saturday won her first start by 4 ¾ lengths on August 8; however, that race was on the grass.
“I think she broke good enough and she ran strong enough that she should be fit enough to go seventh-eighths,” Fawkes said. “You always have to be in question: ‘Was it just the turf that made her run that much better, or is she that good?’ But she’s worked good on the dirt. She’s training excellent. She had a really nice work yesterday (4 furlongs in a bullet 47.49), and I expect her to run really good.”
The Rose Family Stable will be represented in the Susan’s Girl by Jamie’s Dancer, who brings more experience into the race than any other starter. The Rose Family homebred has already started nine times and has eight in-the-money finishes. She broke through with her maiden victory in her most recent start, a 5 ½-furlong contest on August 23, which she took by five lengths.
“She did what I’d been expecting her to do all along,” trainer Barry Rose said. “It’ll be a tough field (in the Susan’s Girl), but I expect her to run well, and she’ll be respectable.
The competitive Susan’s Girl field will also include: R Sassy Lass, third behind Moment of Delight in her debut; Media Rules, who won at first asking in a $16,000 maiden claimer on August 14; and the fillies that claimed the fourth through sixth positions in the Desert Vixen: Herecomesmisskitty, Miss Amalita, Holywell, and I’m a Good Looker.