Sanibel Island a Battle Between Hall of Fame Finalists
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Veteran trainers Graham Motion and Christophe Clement, both of whom are on the ballot this year for the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame, are expecting bounce-back performances from their promising grass fillies Saturday in the $100,000 Sanibel Island at Gulfstream Park.
The eighth edition of the Sanibel Island is one of the 10 stakes on a 154-race program highlighted by the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Xalapa. The 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies attracted a field of 10.
Motion watched Ambitieuse, a Wertheimer and Frere homebred, finish last of nine in the Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs on March 12 after starting her career with three solid performances. Clement’s Shad Nation is making her first start since she was the well-beaten 6-5 favorite in the Chelsey Flower on November 6 at Belmont Park.
Ambitieuse broke her maiden at Gulfstream on Dec. 29 and followed up with a strong second by three-quarters of a length in the Sweetest Chant (G3) on Feb. 5. In the Florida Oaks, she was between horses and did not deliver her late kick.
“She ran really disappointingly at Tampa. That was a real head-scratcher to me,” Motion said. “She likes Gulfstream. The ground was a little soft last time, I don’t know what happened. I really loved her last time. Clearly, she didn’t run her race. She’d never run a bad race before that. She should like it coming back to Gulfstream.”
Luis Saez will ride Ambitieuse for the first time. They will leave from Post 8.
Shad Nation, a daughter of Cairo Prince, is co-owned by Wonder Stables, Madaket Stables and Golconda Stable. She broke her maiden at Belmont Park on Oct. 9 but was never a factor in the Chelsey Flower, which was won by Mischievous Kiss.
Clement has worked her five times at his Payson Park base for this outing.
“She’s training very forwardly, and I think she has a big shot,” he said.
Clement’s son and assistant, Miguel, expects Shad Nation to run well under Irad Ortiz, Jr. from Post 6 in the Sanibel Island.
“I’d be very disappointed if she’s not in the final three, to be honest,” he said
Shad Nation was freshened a bit after running two races within 30 days and Miguel Clement said she has done everything that has been asked of her.
“She’s back to where she needs to be. She’s sitting on a good race,” he said. “Mentally she’s very happy. She’s a filly that I really liked last year, and I was disappointed she got beat in the stake because she’s better than that.”
Brendan Walsh will saddle My Philly Twirl, a John Gallegos homebred out of his mare My Philly Girl. She has won her last two starts, both at Gulfstream Park.
“Physically has done fantastic since she came to Florida,” Walsh said. “I think it’s reflected on the racetrack. She hasn’t done anything wrong down here. She shows that she really likes Gulfstream. We haven’t tried her anywhere else, but she does like the track here, which is always an advantage to any horse.
With the maiden and optional claiming allowance wins on her resume, My Philly Twirl is taking another step in class in a quest for some black type.
“She’s deserved a try in stakes company, and I expect her to run really well because of how she’s done herself all through the winter,” Walsh said. “She just tries and tries.”
With regular rider Julien Leparoux up, My Philly Twirl will break from Post 9.
Carl Pollard’s homebred Mischievous Miss, who drew the rail and will have Joel Rosario riding, is the only stakes winner in the field, having won the Chelsey Flower, She has since finished third in the Tepin at Aqueduct on Nov. 28 and third in the March 5 Herecomesthebride (G3) at Gulfstream.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Beechnut Trophy has hit the board in all four of her career starts. She has won her last two for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. and will try to extend her streak from Post 2 under Jose Ortiz.
New Horizon Farm’s Big Tentations, Post 3 with Leonel Reyes up, and Tami Bobo’s Sensitivity, Post 4 with Paco Lopez aboard, are both trying stakes company off maiden wins in March.
Since being claimed out of a victory on Jan. 16, Paintbrush has won both starts on Tapeta for Vincente Stella Stables and trainer Antonio Sano. She will start from Post 5 with Miguel Vazquez in the irons.
Woodslane Farm’s homebred Hail To is a full sister to the now-retired turf stalwart Sadler’s Joy, who earned $2.6 million in the care of trainer Tom Albertrani. Hail To, who will leave from Post 7 with new rider Tyler Gaffalione aboard, broke her maiden at Saratoga and most recently was second in a Dec. 8 optional claiming allowance at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Sanibel Island will be the fifth start in 2022 for Lady Puchi, who drew the outside. She broke her maiden in her last start, Feb. 22, under Junior Alvarado, who retains the mount.