HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Fred Brei's Jacks or Better Farm, best known for campaigning champion Awesome Feather, has another filly that might be making national headlines soon in the form of Ballet Diva, who beat her rivals soundly in the $75,000 Cassidy Stakes.
After breaking her maiden by a dozen lengths in her career opener on May 28 at Gulfstream Park, the chestnut daughter of Hear No Evil came away running from the rail post and lay down the gauntlet in :22.31 in the Cassidy. Jockey Jose Caraballo sat motionless through the stretch as Ballet Diva ($3.20) opened up en route to a 4 1/2-length victory over 29-1 shot Above Fashion. Her time of 1:04.06 was 1.5 seconds faster than the males ran in the Birdonthewire Stakes one race earlier on the Summit of Speed card.
"I saw her come out, and then it was like, I blinked, and boom, she's out in front," winning trainer Stanley Gold remarked. "Jose eased her to the wire. The time wasn't really impressive though, but it was faster than the boys, and the track wasn't all that fast. She did everything we hoped she could do."
Caraballo added, "She’s a very talented filly. As long as she stays healthy, they’re going to have a lot of fun with here. She does everything so easily. She’ll go longer. She’s not a speed-crazy filly.”
Ballet Diva made amends for stablemates Fellowship and Silent Prayer coming up short in the Birdonthewire.
"The other other race got me a little disappointed with the second and third," Gold admitted. "They ran good, but this picks you up back up again. But you're only as good as your last race. Next one, if they run bad you forget you won, until you go home at the end of the day and it all sinks in. But she didn't disappoint us."
Gold confirmed that Ballet Diva's next target would be the $200,000 Florida Sires Stakes - Desert Vixen division for juvenile fillies at Gulfstream on August 8.
Francesco Blue, Prado Take Birdonthewire
Francesco Blue ($8.20), ridden by Edgar Prado for the first time, benefited from a swift pace to wear down favored Fellowship for a one-length score in the $75,000 Birdonthewire Stakes. Bred in Florida by owner Monarch Stables, the gray colt by Leroidesanimaux was content to settle in fifth as the filly Silent Prayer dashed off a :22.59 opening quarter while chased by fellow Jacks or Better colorbearer Fellowship. Prado guided Francesco Blue to the outside and the youngster put in a determined rally down the stretch for his second straight trip to the winner's circle. The final time for the 5 1/2-furlong test was 1:05.55.
"There was a lot of speed in the race," Prado said. "That set up good for us, how he was in the back. I had to save some ground around the turn and when I called on him, he was there for me."
A troubled fourth on the dirt at Gulfstream in his May 15 career debut, Francesco Blue earned his diploma with a game effort on the Gulfstream grass on June 4, and showcased his versatility at the Summit of Speed.
"He proved that surface isn't an issue today," Prado added. "He ran an okay race first time out and then in his second race on the grass, he very much impressed. He's bred for the grass, but I guess he proved them all that he can run anywhere."
Successful Appeal Wins Umphrey Turf Sprint, Grand Tito Takes Miesque's Approval
Successful Appeal ($5.40) continued his upward progression to secure the $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint Stakes for Marco Thoroughbred Corp. and trainer Aubrey Maragh. Claimed by those connections for $25,000 out of a winning effort on April 30, the 4-year-old colt ran second in a first-level allowance test three weeks later, but resumed his winning ways on June 7 with a 3 1/2-length victory in an optional-claiming contest. Each of those three races were run at five furlongs on the Gulfstream turf, and Successful Native proved those were his optimal conditions once more. Piloted by Juan Leyva, the crowd's choice wore down pacesetter Noble Prince for his third victory in six outings.
Grand Tito ($4.20) kicked off an impressive double for owner Grupo 7 Racing Stable and trainer Gustavo Delgado with his game victory in the $75,000 Miesque's Approval Stakes. A perennial contender in graded stakes races, the 5-year-old had been freshened up following his runner-up effort in the G3 Miami MIle Handicap on April 25. Jockey Javier Castellano had his favored mount handily positioned in the early stages, then moved past pacesetter Joes Blazing Aaron. Grand Tito hit the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front of 51-1 shot Film Making, and took his career earnings to $382,000. Grupo 7 also won the next race on the Summit of Speed card when Grand Bili denied Barbados in the $150,000 G3 Carry Back Stakes.
Lori's Store Wins Spook Express, Danbury Impresses In Debut
Lori's Store ($16.20) made it back-to-back wins for jockey Edgard Zayas when she charged down the center of the course to prevail in the $75,000 Spook Express Stakes, the finale of the Summit of Speed extravaganza. Trained by Marty Wolfson for owner Miller Racing, the 5-year-old mare had been stymied by wide trips in each of her last four starts, including a sixth-place effort in the Tiger Lily Handicap going five panels on June 6. She settled in midpack here, rallied in tandem with favored Street of Gold approaching the stretch and got the better of that rival in the shadow of the wire.
Trainer Bill Kaplan saddled a winning pair of first-time starters earlier on the Summit of Speed card. Danbury ($5.00) came from just off the pace to record a neck decision in the second race, a $60,000 maiden special weight contest. The Florida-bred son of Kantharos is owned by Michael Bernard. Stablemate Paddy's Flight ($15.00) matched that effort in Sunday's third race for juvenile fillies, drawing off to six-length tally. The daughter of Paddy O'Prado is campaigned by Pinnacle Racing Stable and Stein Racing. Jockey Juan Leyva rode both of the Kaplan trainees.