Personal Best Chasing Second Straight Win in $150,000 Orchid (G3)
Among 10 Stakes, Five Graded, Worth $2.35 Million on Florida Derby Day
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Joseph Allen’s homebred filly Personal Best, who became a graded-stakes winner in her 4-year-old debut nine weeks earlier, returns with a chance to make it two straight in Saturday’s $150,000 Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 59th running of Orchid for fillies and mares 4 and up scheduled for 1 ½ miles on the grass is the fourth of 10 stakes, five graded, worth $2.35 million in purses on a spectacular 14-race program anchored by the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa for 3-year-olds.
Post time is 11:30 a.m. EST. The Orchid goes as Race 8 (2:56 p.m.) with the Florida Derby (6:40 p.m.) part of a national CNBC broadcast from 6 to 7 p.m.
Personal Best, by Tapit, has been working steadily for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey at Payson Park since rallying for a neck victory in the La Prevoyante (G3) Jan. 28, also going 1 ½ miles on the Gulfstream turf.
“She’s done good since then,” McGaughey said. “She worked on the turf [Saturday] morning very well, so we’ll see what happens.”
In the La Prevoyante, Personal Best settled in mid-pack before tipping out five wide for a steady run through the stretch to catch Transient, who also returns in the Orchid. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides back from Post 6 in a field of eight.
“I thought she ran a real good race the other day. She relaxed really good going long like that,” McGaughey said. “Irad said when you’re going short, he has to put her in the race a little bit and then she gets a little strong. But the other day she relaxed really well and we were pleased with that.”
Personal Best broke her maiden in her fifth try going 1 5/16 miles last fall at Kentucky Downs. She took a short lead into the stretch of the Dec. 26 Tropical Park Oaks, rained off the grass to Gulfstream’s Tapeta course, but had to settle for third behind Candy Light and Surprisingly, who came back to win the Endeavour (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
“I think the future’s still in front of her,” McGaughey said. “We’re looking forward to running her again. We were looking forward to getting her stretched out the other day and she looked good. We’ve always felt that’s what she wanted.”
e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ Transient ended her 4-year-old season running third in the 1 ¼-mile Maple Leaf (G3) on Woodbine’s all-weather surface and, after the La Prevoyante, came up a length short when third following a troubled trip in the 1 3/8-mile The Very One (G3) March 4 at Gulfstream.
“She was probably a tad unfortunate last time. She checked at a crucial point and lost ground and then finished up strong after that,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “She ran a really good race. It’s going to be another tough race for her, but she’s knocking on the door to win one of these Grade 3s so hopefully she can break though.
“She just got beat in the race before,” he added. “She was a bit unfortunate there, too. [Jockey] Tyler [Gaffalione] dropped his stick at the eighth pole. She’s had a couple things not go her way and she still shows up. Hopefully this time things go her way.”
Edgard Zayas is named to ride Transient from Post 3.
“Hopefully she can knock through on one of these,” Joseph said. “She’s Grade 3-placed multiple times and to get a graded-stakes win with her it would make her very valuable.”
Trainer Christophe Clement entered the pair of German-breds Amazing Grace and Atomic Blonde for their North American debuts. Moyglare Stud Farm Ltd.’s Amazing Grace, 5, is a multiple group-stakes winner in Germany, including a victory over Atomic Blonde in the 1 ½-mile T. Von Zastrow Stutenpreis (G2) last fall. Clement purchased her for $895,972 out of the Arqana breeding stock sale in Deauville, France last December.
Michael Faust, West Point Thoroughbreds and Heather Winters’ 4-year-old Atomic Blonde owns three career wins including the 1 ¼-mile Premio Verziere Memorial Aldo Cirla Tr Arqana (G3) in Italy one start after her third to Amazing Grace. She fetched $316,225 at the same Deauville sale.
“The numbers say the European fillies that have come to the United States have been so dominant in that category. Christophe was very aware of that,” West Point executive vice president Tom Bellhouse said. “He seemed to feel that anything over 10 furlongs would be ideal for her. This is her first start in American coming up for us, but we’re excited. We’ve had great success over the years in those long-distance turf categories and they’re a lot of fun. It’s just neat to have horses that run in those types of races.”
Joel Rosario is named on Amazing Grace from Post 5 while Jose Ortiz gets the assignment on Atomic Blonde from outermost Post 8.
Completing the field are Viburnum, winner of the 1 ½-mle Via Borghese on Gulfstream’s Tapeta Dec. 17; Miss Yearwood, third in the 1 3/8-mile Jockey Club Oaks Invitational (G3) two starts back; Transient’s stablemate Tamarindo; and Lady Arsinoe.