Oh Darlin Paying Off on Plesa’s Calculated Gamble
Daughter of Uncaptured Set for Saturday’s Stakes Debut
Dangerous Ride, Cheerful Charlie Bring Experience into Juvenile
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Eddie Plesa Jr. was impressed enough with how well Oh Darlin had prepared for this year’s OBS April Sale that he decided to take a calculated gamble on her even after she developed a physical issue following her final breeze for the 2-year-olds in training sale.
The veteran South Florida trainer with 2467 career wins bought Oh Darlin for his wife, Laurie, with a winning bid of $40,000, knowing the Florida-bred filly would need some time before going into training and embarking on her racing career.
“It was the kind of issue that I looked at as an opportunity. It was also the kind of issue that I couldn’t buy the horse for somebody else. You can’t buy horses that have issues for other people.” Plesa said. “In my mind I wanted a discounted price and I thought the $40,000 was a discounted price. I think if she didn’t have that issue, she would have brought well into the six figures.”
Oh Darlin, thus far, has proven to be a solid investment and will make her stakes debut Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $60,000 Juvenile Fillies, a mile-and-70-yard stakes for 2-year-old Florida-bred fillies on Tapeta. The daughter of Uncaptured is also eligible for a $15,000 purse supplement offered to a Florida Sire Stakes nominated winner. The Juvenile Fillies will co-headline Saturday’s card with the $60,000 Juvenile, a mile-and-70-yard stakes for 2-year-old Florida-breds on Tapeta that will also offer a $15,000 purse supplement for a FSS-nominated winner.
Oh Darlin, who missed the lucrative 2022 Florida Sire Stakes series, was a little unlucky in her Oct. 7 debut, in which she experienced bumping at the start before a four-wide bid fell just a nose short of catching Hoax, the Todd Pletcher-trained favorite in the 5 ½-furlong dash on Tapeta. In her Oct. 28 return, she closely attended the pace on the inside before making a sweeping move to the lead on the turn and drawing clear by three lengths to graduate in a five-furlong sprint on Tapeta.
“It didn’t work out [in her debut] but in the big picture, what has it done? It’s given her another race. It gives her more experience,” Plesa said.
Although Oh Darlin has already proven herself on the all-weather surface, she will be making her first start around two turns Saturday.
“It’s a question mark. I’ve had a number of Uncaptureds and they seem to be better sprinting than they do going around two turns,” Plesa said. “She’s been on the Tapeta, so we know she likes the Tapeta. It’s not a big field numbers-wise. She drew a good [rail] post, so if she’s going to get the two turns, barring the unforeseen, it will be Saturday.”
Kevin Krigger has the return mount on Oh Darlin, 8-5 in the morning line.
Lael Stables’ Navy Goat, who graduated on turf at Kentucky Downs Sept. 18 in his most recent start, is also slated to make her stakes debut Saturday. The Arnaud Delacoeur-trained daughter of Army Mule was purchased for $450,000 at the OBS April Sale.
Navy Goat, who finished a wide third in her Aug. 16 debut at five furlongs over Monmouth Park’s turf course, overcame a bump at the start of the mile race at Kentucky Downs before registering a narrow victory to graduate.
Sammy Camacho is scheduled to ride Navy Goat for the first time.
Nova Stable’s Esoteric is set to make her two-turn debut on Tapeta following a pair of promising main-track starts. The daughter of Khozan won at first asking Sept. 23 at Gulfstream following a nine-wide drive under Chantal Sutherland. The Ron Spatz trainee recovered from bumping at the start of her Oct. 29 return to finish third in the Juvenile Fillies Sprint for Florida-breds.
Sutherland returns aboard Esoteric, who is eligible for the FSS purse supplement.
Miracles International Trading Inc.’s Extra Indy, Orlando Barrera’s La Panda, NBS Stable’s Luck in the Dusk, and Patrick Biancone Racing LLC and Amy Dunne’s Luck in Malibu round out the field.
The Juvenile will bring together a pair of stakes-experienced 2-year-olds in Palm Beach Racing Partnership’s Dangerous Ride and Spencer MacDonald’s Cheerful Charlie.
Dangerous Ride, a son of Lord Nelson, is scheduled to make his fifth consecutive stakes start Saturday. The Carlos David trainee, who most recently finished second in the Juvenile Sprint for Florida-breds on the main track, debuted with a victory at Gulfstream Park on Tapeta.
Edwin Gonzalez has the return mount aboard Dangerous Ride.
Cheerful Charlie, a son of Adios Charlie who is eligible for the FSS purse supplement, has been stakes-placed in all three of his stakes appearances. The Luis Olivares trainee most recently finished second in an optional claiming allowance on dirt following three straight stakes starts on Tapeta – a third-place finish in the 5 ½-furlong Proud Man, a close second in the mile-and-70-yard Armed Forces and a third-place finish in the five-furlong Hollywood Beach.
Jose Morelos is scheduled to ride Cheerful Charlie for the first time.
Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Blessing, who finished third in the Juvenile Sprint, graduated on Tapeta in his previous start, a six-furlong maiden special weight race in which he closed from well off the pace and drew away to win by 3 ¼ lengths at Presque Isle Downs.
Sam Camacho has the return call on Souper Blessing.
Arindel’s Maximo, a 10-length winner in a mile-and-70-yard maiden special weight race on Tapeta prior to a pair of poor showings in the FSS Affirmed and the Armed Forces, will return as a gelding in the Juvenile, in which he will race without blinkers for the first time.
Edgard Zayas has the call on the son of Brethren.
NBS Stable’s Anamnestic, Roger Lauren’s Tigre, Dan Hurtak’s Captain Anthony and Alex and Joanne Lieblong’s Big Save round out the field.
Racing Returns Friday
The winter season and Championship Meet is fast approaching and that means some of the top stables are in town and beginning to run their horses. Case in point is Friday’s two maiden special weight events. Race 3, for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, will mark the debut of Balletic, a $450,000 daughter of Into Mischief trained by Todd Pletcher. In Race 6, a maiden event for fillies and mares at a mile & 70 yards on the Tapeta, Pletcher will send out Curlin’s Coleen, a $310,000 daughter of Curlin.
Race 8, a starter optional claimer, features the 5-year-old Sea Trident, going after his fifth consecutive victory for trainer Claudio Gonzalez, and Mr Tito’s, another 5-year-old who has finished first, second or third in 18 of 21 career starts at Gulfstream.
Friday’s first race post is 12:25 p.m.