R Harper Rose Cuts Back for $125,000 Forward Gal (G3)
3YO Filly Seeks Rebound from First Loss in Seven-Furlong Sprint
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Averill Racing and Two Eight Racing’s R Harper Rose, knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten in her most recent start, cuts back to one turn in an attempt to regain her winning form in Saturday’s $125,000 Forward Gal (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 44th running of the seven-furlong Forward Gal 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.
R Harper Rose will make her sophomore debut two months after running second as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl, the finale of the Florida Stallion Series of stakes for juvenile fillies, Dec. 2 at Gulfstream.
Trained by Championship Meet leader Saffie Joseph Jr., the bay daughter of Khozan set the pace in the My Dear Girl before yielding the lead entering the stretch but was a decisive second behind Honey Dijon, more than seven lengths ahead of Haunted in third.
“It was her first time going that far and it was the last leg of the stallion stakes, so you had to give it a go,” Joseph said. “She had gotten sick in between, so she didn’t come into it with the ideal preparation. But we went ahead and gave it a go and she was just second-best on the day. Now we cut her back to what we think will be her best thing going one turn.”
R Harper Rose made her first two starts last summer and fall at Gulfstream going 5 ½ furlongs before stretching out to seven-eighths for the FSS Susan’s Girl Oct. 21, winning by a combined 16 lengths, all under jockey Edgard Zayas who returns to ride from Post 4 in a field of seven as the 2-1 second choice on the morning line.
“She’s just a very fast filly. Speed’s her game, but she can also rate a little bit if she needs to. This race we feel like we have her going in the right way, so hopefully she’ll bring her ‘A’ game. She’ll need it,” Joseph said. “She’s had a good preparation going into this race. Cutting back in distance should help her, too. So far everything’s been good to order, so we’re happy with her.”
Repole Stable’s Scalable returns to stakes company following a popular six-length maiden special weight triumph going one mile Jan. 4 at Gulfstream. The daughter of late champion sprinter Speightstown debuted last September at Saratoga then was sent to Santa Anita for back-to-back races, running second in the Chandelier (G2) and fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), both at 1 1/16 miles.
“We spotted her pretty ambitiously still being a maiden and running in the Grade 2 at Santa Antia and coming back in the Breeders’ Cup, so we wanted to put her back with maidens” for her last race, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “She ran the way that she was supposed to.”
The 9-5 program favorite, Scalable will have the services of jockey Jose Ortiz for the third straight race, breaking from Post 6.
“I think she’s versatile enough. She’s a filly that can go longer and can handle two turns, but cutting back to seven-eighths is probably OK, too. We just felt like this is an opportunity for her to take a shot at winning a graded-stake,” Pletcher said. “She’s very professional. She’s been a pleasure to train. She’s just a filly that likes what she does and goes out every day and takes care of her business.”
Gary Barber’s Witwatersrand, rated at 9-2 on the morning line drew outermost Post 7 under Paco Lopez as she tries dirt for the first time in her sophomore debut. The Connect filly raced three times at 2, all on Woodbine’s all-weather surface, winning the 1 1/16-mile Mazarine (G3) Nov. 4. Witwatersrand, whose name means ‘white water ridge’ in Afrikaans, won her debut and was third in the seven-furlong Glorious Song, both as the favorite.
Also entered are Chi Chi, a 6 ½-furlong stakes winner at both Remington Park and Gulfstream that ran fifth in the one-mile Cash Run Jan. 1; Fiona’s Magic, riding a two-race win streak; Kissedbyanangel, winner of the 2023 Maryland Juvenile Filly at Laurel Park who was third in the six-furlong Glitter Woman Jan. 7; and Nikitis, a last-out maiden winner Dec. 1 at Aqueduct.