By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainers Amy Tarrant and John Ward both had reservations heading into Sunday’s $200,000 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park.
As things turned out, Tarrant needn’t have worried that Pomeroys Special didn’t have enough time between races to offer her best effort; and Ward’s mild pre-race concern that seven-furlongs would not be ideal for Dancinginherdreams’ 2011 debut was justified, but he didn’t seem worried at all.
Pomperoys Pistol ($20.40), who finished a strong second behind Final Mesa in the Old Hat (G3) at Gulfstream on Jan. 5, withstood pressure throughout the running of the Forward Gal and still had enough left in the stretch to hold off Dancinginherdreams by three-quarters of a length.
“I was concerned that there wasn’t enough time between her last race and this one and considered waiting for the Davona Dale (G2),” said Tarrant, the owner and breeder, as well as trainer, of the winner. “Now we’ll see how she comes out of this one before deciding on the Davona Dale (Feb. 26).”
Dancinginherdreams, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Julien Leparoux who captured the one-mile Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in November, was swung to the far outside at the top of the stretch after settling in sixth in the early going. She closed steadily through the stretch but ran out of ground.
“I thought she ran extremely well. It was a very good race for her first race off the shelf. She probably made up 3 ½ lengths on the winner in the final eighth of a mile. She just ran out of racetrack,” said Ward, whose filly suffered her first loss in the Forward Gal. “She’ll most likely go in the Davona Dale next and that’s where it becomes tactical. It’s not from the free throw line; it’s from the three-point line.”
Pomeroys Pistol broke alertly under jockey Paco Lopez to vie for the early lead along the rail, joined by Third Chance to her outside. Lopez held his ground aboard the 3-year-old Pennsylvania-bred filly while lapped on by Third Chance and jockey Joe Bravo. Lopez moved his filly to the lead on the turn and opened up daylight enough daylight in the stretch to hold off the late bid from Dancinginherdreams while drifting out.
“The trainer told me to put her into the race and see what happens. Down the backside I saw Bravo’s horse putting me in a bit of a tough spot, so I moved towards the lead,” said Lopez, who rode three winners Sunday to boost his meet-leading total to 26 wins. “She was getting a little tired at the end and I knew (Dancinginherdreams) was coming, but she held on.”
Pomeroys Pistol ran seven-furlongs in 1:22 4/5 after setting or pressing fractions of :22 1/5, :44 3/5 and 1:09 1/5. Dancinginherdreams finished 3-1/2 lengths clear of Evil Queen, an 80-1 outsider ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez.
The victory was Pomeroys Pistol’s second in five starts and first in a stakes.
“I was concerned when she ended up on the lead, but from the one or two post you are pretty much committed. Paco has ridden her before, knows her, and knew she had plenty left,” Tarrant said. “This is very special as my first homebred to win a graded stakes. I’ve had other homebreds win races, but not a graded stakes.”
R Heat Lighting, the runner-up in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, finished fourth as the 6-5 second choice in the betting.
“I wanted to get her in the clear and keep from getting caught in a speed duel. I was able to do that but she was just a little bit flat today,” jockey John Velazquez said.