William L. Pape's homebred Boxwood, making her season and stakes debut, found her way to the lead early and held off late-running favorite Pivottina in the final yards to win Saturday's $100,000 Ginger Brew by a neck at Gulfstream Park.
The 7 ½-furlong Ginger Brew on turf and the $75,000 Glitter Woman at six furlongs on the main track, both for 3-year-old fillies, were among five stakes worth $450,000 in purses an 11-race program capped by the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man, the first of Gulfstream's series of races for 3-year-olds on dirt leading up to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 31.
Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. for trainer Eddie Kenneally, Boxwood ($7) completed the distance in 1:30.53 over a firm course as the 5-2 second choice in a field of eight. Grade 3-placed Pivottina, the 8-5 favorite, was a length ahead of Red Rounder in third. Fortunate Girl was another neck back in fourth.
Boxwood, a chestnut daughter of turf champion English Channel, made her first two starts last year on turf, breaking her maiden in September at Kentucky Downs. Her last two races were moved off the grass to a sloppy main track, where she was a front-running 10-length winner Nov. 24 in her juvenile finale.
“She's a quality filly, coming off a nice win on the dirt,” Kenneally said. “She came in here, worked good a few times at Palm Meadows and has thrived since she's been here in Florida. She ran a big race. She was game today. They challenged her at the sixteenth pole and she kept running. She really dug in. They were really running at the end.”
Boxwood hugged the rail and outran 50-1 long shot Noncents for the lead, setting sharp fractions of 22.45 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 47.19 for the half as Red Rounder settled in third along the inside and Beechwood Ella in the clear four wide in fourth.
Six furlongs went in 1:12.32 as Fortunate Girl made a sweeping move into contention on the far outside and late-running Pivottina followed after racing far back early. Boxwood put away Fortunate Girl in mid-stretch but still had to hold off Pivottina as the wire approached.
“We thought we'd get her in behind a couple horses but she left there good and I looked over and it looked like [Luis Saez] was scrubbing on [Noncents] to get in front of us, so I let her find her rhythm,” Hernandez said. “She went around there and just cruised along. The whole way down the lane, she was reaching but she was still throwing her ears back and forth at me, waiting on horses.”
Boxwood has never been worse than third with three wins from five career starts, and pushed her bankroll over $200,000.
“It's a better caliber of competition today, obviously, but all in all she's an improving filly. She's versatile; she's dirt, she's turf. She's got a bright future,” Kenneally said. “Obviously there's a nice schedule of turf races here at Gulfstream. We'll look at that and decide as we get a little closer.”
LNJ Foxwoods' Fancy Dress Party, undefeated in her only two starts at 2, ran her record to a perfect 3-0 with a dominating 5 ¾-length triumph in the $75,000 Glitter Woman.
Sent to post as the 4-5 favorite in a field of eight, Fancy Dress Party ($3.80) covered six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:11.81 under a hand ride from Championship Meet leader Luis Saez, his third win of the day.
Brunette Princess, breaking from the rail with Hall of Famer John Velazquez, was intent on running with Fancy Dress Party but yielded the advantage after a quarter-mile in 22.29 seconds. Fancy Dress Party solidified her lead through a half in 46.18, putting her early challenger away around the far turn.
Fancy Dress Party was in command straightening for home and powered through the lane to open up on her rivals. Horologist came with a late run to get second by a nose over Brunette Princess, who found another gear in the stretch.
A $280,000 yearling purchase in September 2017, Fancy Dress Party won her debut in an off-the-turf 5 ½-furlong sprint Oct. 26 at Keeneland. She followed up with an optional claiming triumph going six furlongs Nov. 24; both victories coming over sloppy tracks.
“I think she might be a little better on a fast track, actually,” winning trainer Ben Colebrook said. “She did it very impressively. Luis rode her good. I said to him, 'Just get her away from there cleanly. Whatever you want to do is fine.' He said Johnny [Velazquez] really wanted the lead and he just sat off him. She was going easy. He waited as long as he could and then when he unleashed her, man, she was very impressive.
“We're just happy to get the stakes win,” he added. “She got kind of a late start in her 2-year-old year. She didn't get a break. It's a long year and a lot of big races. I don't know what we'll do with her yet.”
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