Joseph Allen’s homebred Doswell, solidly second last year despite a bothersome trip, had no such trouble in his return to the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) Saturday at Gulfstream Park, rolling to a front-running 1 ½-length victory and stamping himself a contender for next month’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).
The 65th running of the 1 1/8-mile Fort Lauderdale for 3-year-olds and up was the last of five stakes, four graded, worth $650,000 in purses. It was one of three Pegasus Day previews on the program, along with the $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and $100,000 Suwannee River (G3), respective preps for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) and $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G3).
With Junior Alvarado aboard for trainer Barclay Tagg, Doswell ($11) completed the distance in 1:47.99 over a firm turf course to earn his first win since an October 2020 allowance at Belmont Park, also in gate-to-wire fashion. It was his first stakes win, having run second by two lengths in last year’s Fort Lauderdale and third by 1 ¼ in the W.L. McKnight (G3) during the Championship Meet.
Doswell, a gelded 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, went to the sidelines following the McKnight and didn’t return to racing for nine months, running third in back-to-back optional claiming allowances Oct. 21 at Belmont Park and Nov. 19 at Aqueduct, his prior start.
“He’s hard to get fit because he’s had some little problems and stuff like that, and we had to give and take with him a lot,” Tagg said. “But, I felt kind of good about him today because he was fit. We were able to train him hard.
“He’s a horse that’s kind of made for trouble,” he added. “[Assistant trainer] Robin [Smullen] has just done a hell of a job with him. She rides him every single day,” Tagg said. “She got him all straightened out and he’s very sensible now.”
Doswell Wins Fort Lauderdale
Doswell broke sharply from his rail post in a field of 12 and was sent to the lead by Alvarado, going a quarter-mile in 24.73 seconds and a half in 48.69 with only mild pressure from Analyze It, a three-time Grade 3 winner that was Grade 1 placed twice in the summer of 2018.
Fearless Peerless in Saturday’s G3 Harlan’s Holiday
Repole Stable’s Fearless took complete advantage of a dream set-up in Saturday’s $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday to register a dominant and popular victory at Gulfstream Park.
The Todd Pletcher-trained 3-5 favorite prevailed by four lengths to win his fourth race in five starts at Gulfstream while returning to the form that produced a victory in last season’s Gulfstream Park Mile (G2).
The Harlan’s Holiday, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up, co-headlined Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup preview with the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2), a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, on a program that offered five stakes, four graded.
Fearless was making his second start off a six-month layoff while bouncing back from his first loss at Gulfstream – a close-up second-place finish in the Nov. 21 Miami Gardens overnight handicap.
The 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper broke cleanly to track the pace set by Mighty Heart and pressed by Blue Steel along the backstretch. Following a half-mile in 47.76 seconds, Saez asked Fearless for run, and the Kentucky-bred gelding responded by making a three-wide sweep to pull alongside Mighty Heart at the top of the stretch and continue on to win comfortably under Luis Saez.
Harlan’s Holiday Replay
“It was perfect. The plan came together perfect. I had a lot of horse at the three-eighths [pole]. That’s why I went early, because he’s a big horse and takes a little time to get going. He did it perfect,” Saez said. “I want to give thanks to the trainer and owner. Todd’s given me a lot of opportunities and I’m very grateful.”
Fearless ran 1 1/16-miles in 1:42.19. South Bend rallied in the stretch to finish second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Mighty Heart.
Center Aisle Turns Tables on Frank’s Rockette in Sugar Swirl
Center Aisle was no match for Frank’s Rockette the first two times they hooked up on the track.
Not so Saturday at Gulfstream Park, when Center Aisle engaged her nemesis in the stretch and drew off for a one-length victory in the $100,000 Sugar Swirl Stakes (Gr. III).
“She did it pretty impressively,” said winning jockey Luis Saez.
The connections for Center Aisle always had high hopes for the filly after she broke her maiden convincingly on her first try at Gulfstream in March, 2020. But four straight defeats followed, including a pair of third-place finishes that same year to Frank’s Rockette in the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont and Prioress (G2) at Saratoga. It was then that owner OXO Equine LLC decided to turn her out for a year.
She has returned in grand fashion for trainer Paulo Lobo, winning a pair of tune-up races before Saturday’s victory in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl.
“She was coming into the race ready from two very nice races,” Lobo said.
Center Aisle Wins Sugar Swirl
With Frank’s Rockette involved in a front-running duel with three other members of the eight-horse field, Saez guided Center Aisle outside into a stalking position before ranging up alongside Frank’s Rockette in the upper stretch.
“The other filly was running pretty fast,” Saez said. “But I had a lot of horse, and when we came to the top of the stretch, she gave me another kick. We knew we had a horse with fight, and she did it.”
Dance d’Oro Records Her First Stakes Win With Victory in Rampart
Dance d’Oro scored her first stakes victory Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $100,000 Rampart, leading throughout in a non-threatening victory over Don’t Get Khozy.
Winning jockey Emisael Jaramillo rode the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro through comfortable early fractions in the one-mile stakes, leaving the filly with plenty of reserve in the stretch to register a two-length victory.
“We were comfortable in the front, good pace,” Jaramillo said. “When I asked her for run, she ran easy, because the first part of the race was easy for her.”
Dance d’Oro, trained by Ralph Nicks for owner Whisper Hill Farm LLC, was making her stakes debut in what was her 11th career race. Following a three-month layoff, the filly romped to a 9 1/4 length victory in a September 24 optional claiming race at Gulfstream, followed by a third-place effort in a handicap on Nov. 21.
“Her first race back was amazing, and maybe she bounced a little bit because she ran so hard,” Nicks said. “Today was another huge effort.”
Dance d’Oro raced to the front up the backstretch, followed by a non-menacing Gran Baby, and opened up on the field when she led the six-horse field into the stretch. Don’t Get Khozy made a late run, but was no match for the winner. Allworthy, the 8-5 favorite, ducked in at the start out of the chute and finished third, 2 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up.
Sweet Melania Ends Drought in 100k G3 Suwanee River
Robert and Lawana Low’s multiple graded-stakes winner Sweet Melania, without a victory in 18 months, swept past favored pacesetter Shift She in mid-stretch and pulled away to end her drought with a half-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Suwannee River (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 73rd running of the one-mile Suwannee River for fillies and mares 3 and up on the grass was the first of five stakes, four graded, worth $650,000 in purses. It serves as a prep for the $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G3) Jan. 29.
Other Pegasus Day prep races on the program were the $150,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G3), for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) and $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), respectively.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf would be under consideration for Sweet Melania ($15.60), a 4-year-old daughter of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah that won the 2019 Jessamine (G2) and, most recently, the Wonder Again (G3) in June 2020.
Shifty She, exiting a front-running triumph in the Oct. 23 Noble Damsel (G3) at Belmont Park, broke sharply and went straight to the lead, opening a wide advantage as Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez settled Sweet Melania in second. Sweet Melania began to make up ground around the far turn and moved up to even terms once straightened for home before edging clear.
Shifty She held second over In a Hurry, with Irish-bred Keeper of Time third. The winning time was 1:34.19 over a firm turf course.