Golden Ghost Set to Make Graded Debut in Sweetest Chant (G3)
First of Four Stakes, Three Graded, on Holy Bull (G3) Undercard
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – D. J. Stable’s British-bred Golden Ghost, riding the momentum of back-to-back wins, will get the chance to extend her streak when she makes the jump to graded-stakes company for Saturday’s $175,000 Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 29th running of the 1 1/16-mile Sweetest Chant for fillies is one of five stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds, four graded, worth $850,000 in purses on a 12-race card anchored by the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3), Gulfstream’s next stop on the road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 31.
Based with Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse at Palm Meadows, Gufstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Golden Ghost debuted last summer in the 5 ½-furlong Astoria at Belmont Park, running fourth. She was then switched to the turf, where she finished sixth and fifth in successive maiden events at Saratoga.
Golden Ghost graduated in a one-mile maiden special weight Dec. 2 at Del Mar, drawing off to win by 1 ¾ lengths, then made a successful transition to Gulfstream’s all-weather Tapeta course in an off-the-turf optional claiming allowance going 1 1/16 miles Jan. 12, getting an ideal stalking trip and coming on to win by a length as the favorite.
“She seems to be on the improve right now,” Casse’s assistant trainer, Nick Tomlinson, said. “Obviously we weren’t sure what to expect last time with the Tapeta but she handled it very well. We’re looking for her to go for a threepeat now, so hopefully everything works out and she gets there.”
By $5.7 million earner Medaglia d’Oro out of the Group 1-winning Le Havre mare Villa Marina, Golden Ghost fetched $500,000 as a Keeneland yearling in September 2022. Tomlinson, who runs the Palm Meadows string, has been impressed with her transformation from training to racing.
“It’s funny, she’s a completely different horse in the afternoon than she is in the morning. In the afternoon she’s completely relaxed and very professional. In the morning she can be a bit quirky,” he said. “We’re very happy with how she handled everything last time out and hopefully she does the same thing in this race.”
Rated at 12-1 on the morning line, Golden Ghost drew outermost Post 8 and will retain the services of Paco Lopez from her last start. The connections chose the quick turnaround over coming back in the one-mile Herecomesthebride (G3) March 2.
“I think if we weren’t confident, we wouldn’t put her in here,” Tomlinson said. “We weighed our options and we thought this was the best spot for her, going a mile and a sixteenth. We could have waited for the next one, but that’s going a mile so we thought this would suit her better.”
The 2-1 program favorite for the Sweetest Chant is Repole Stable’s Life’s an Audible. By 2018 Holy Bull and Florida Derby winner Audible, also trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Life’s an Audible rallied from last after a half-mile to finish second from Post 10 in the one-mile Ginger Brew Jan. 6 on the Gulfstream turf.
“She really was coming at the end,” Pletcher said. “She closed well from a difficult post. She just shows up and gives her ‘A’ effort every time. Hopefully with a little smoother trip she can get up in time.”
Life’s an Audible boke her maiden second time out last summer at Saratoga in her first race on turf, then stepped up and was beaten a half-length by subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Hard to Justify in the 1 1/16-mile Miss Grillo (G2) at Aqueduct. Fifth in the same Breeders’ Cup race, Life’s an Audible drew the rail with Irad Ortiz Jr.
“We’ve always liked her,” Pletcher said. “She kind of showed us early on that she took a liking to the turf, and she’s been versatile enough to run short and then stretch out. She’s a real sweet filly to be around and train. She’s very straightforward, and you have to admire her consistent effort every time.”
Qatar Racing’s Irish-bred Milliat stretches out around two turns for the first time in just her third start and second in North America. A debut winner last September on the all-weather in Ireland, she came from last to be second by a neck to Ozara in the 7 ½-furlong Wait a While Dec. 9 on the Gulfstream turf.
“She gallops a mile and a quarter and handles them well, so distance shouldn’t be an issue,” trainer Jack Sisterson said. “In her works, her gallop outs are strong. She’s big-striding for sort of an average-sized filly so she should probably actually prefer the mile and a sixteenth.”
Irish jockey Oisin Murphy rides Milliat from Post 7.
Dynamic Pricing, winner of her lone start last fall on the Aqueduct turf; last out Gulfstream maiden winners Macanga and Style Points; Madame Mischief, fourth in the Ginger Brew; and Pharoah’s Wine, runner-up in the 1 1/16-mile Jessamine (G2) on the Keeneland turf last October, complete the field.