Opalina Makes the Grade in 100k Sweetest Chant
Third Graded-Stakes Win of Afternoon for Jockey Luis Saez
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Teneri Farm and J Stables’ Opalina came with a steady run around the far turn and powered through the stretch to reel in 25-1 long shot leader Myfavoritedaughter and win Saturday’s $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 27th running of the 1 1/16-mile Sweetest Chant for fillies and mares on turf was the fourth of five graded-stakes for 3-year-olds on the program, immediately preceding the 33rd edition of the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3), the next step on the road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1).
Opalina ($10.60) hit the wire in 1:41.56 over a firm turf course to give jockey Luis Saez his third graded-stakes win on the card, following My Prankster in the Claiborne Farm Swale (G3) and Girl With a Dream in the Forward Gal (G3), both on the main track.
“When she took the lead in the stretch she kind of waited for the other ones, but when she got on the left [lead] she gave me another gear,” Saez said. “Last time, she needed a race and she didn’t want to be too close. Today, we wanted to race a little bit from behind and make one move with her. Everything turned out like we were expecting.”
Myfavoritedaughter, sent off at the longest odds in a field of nine at 25-1, sped through fractions of 23.16 and 46.88 seconds to lead the group by open lengths with Ocean Safari, runner-up in the one-mile Ginger Brew Jan. 1 at Gulfstream, a distant second. Saez, meanwhile, had Opalina – third as the favorite in the Ginger Brew – settled in fourth.
“She ran great, and that’s the way she runs her best, coming off the pace a little bit,” winning trainer Roderick Rodriguez said. “The last time she was anxious in the receiving barn, but today she was perfect. She was relaxed. She broke alertly, but she settled back and just made one big run, and that’s the way I want her to run.”
Saez gave Opalina her cue leaving the backstretch, swinging out three wide to launch their bid. They quickly passed Ocean Safari and straightened for home with their sights set on Myfavoritedaughter, who dug in determinedly but could not hold off the closers.
Opalina earned her first career stakes victory by three-quarters of a length over late-running Ambitieuse, making just her third career start and first in a stakes. Miss You Ella came on for third, another 1 ¼ lengths back. Myfavoritedaughter, Battle Charge, Ocean Safari, Roughly a Diamond, Hal’s Dream and Nostalgic – narrowly favored over Opalina and Ocean Safari – completed the order of finish.
“I felt good, because I know Luis can get the horse going,” Rodriguez said. “She was coming on really nice. I felt really confident at the top of the stretch.”