After ending lengthy layoffs with wins first time back less than a week and more than 700 miles apart, Todd Pletcher-trained stablemates Bellavais and Cherry Lodge will make their return to stakes competition together in Saturday's $100,000 My Charmer (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 34th running of the one-mile My Charmer for fillies and mares 3 and up over the newly refurbished turf course is among five graded-stakes worth $600,000 in purses on an 11-race program that begins with a noon first post.
Also for females 3 and older on the dirt are the $100,000 Sugar Swirl (G3) at six furlongs and $100,000 Rampart (G3) at one mile. Featured on the day are the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2), with 13 graded-stakes winners among the field of 16, and the $100,000 Harlan's Holiday (G3), marking the return to graded-stakes competition of 2018 Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible.
Phillips Racing Partnership's homebred Tapit filly Bellavais went nearly 11 months between races before returning with a one-length optional claiming victory going a mile over the Belmont Park turf Oct. 24 in her first start for Pletcher.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, up for the comeback victory, gets the return call from Post 1 in an overflow field of 16. Bellavais won two stakes in 2017, the one-mile Drumtop at Suffolk Downs and the 7 ½-furlong Ginger Brew in her only previous try over the Gulfstream turf.
“Bellevais ran very well off the layoff for us and she's run well here in the past, and she's coming into the race in good order,” Pletcher said. “I thought her last race was a big effort from her. She ran very fast and finished up well and seemed to come out of it in good form, so we're excited about getting her going again.”
Gainesway Stable's Cherry Lodge also has one previous start on the grass at Gulfstream, finishing third by a length in the Ladies Turf Sprint Jan. 27 at odds of 11-1. The daughter of champion Bernardini didn't race again until a front-running neck victory as the favorite in an open second-level allowance going 5 ½ furlongs Oct. 18 at Keeneland.
Third in the Spinaway (G1) and second in the Matron (G3) on dirt as a 2-year-old in 2016, Cherry Lodge won a seven-furlong turf allowance at Belmont and was fifth, beaten just three lengths, in the one-mile Riskaverse Stakes on grass at Saratoga last summer.
“She's kind of run well at sprint and route distances and she seems to be in good form. We're looking forward to giving her a try,” Pletcher said. “She's a very classy filly with good form and she's training very well.”
Jose Ortiz is named to ride Cherry Lodge from Post 7.
Trainer Patrick Biancone is looking forward to the graded-stakes debut of D P Racing's Lafta, a 4-year-old daughter of Kitten's Joy that is the first of two also-eligibles along with stakes winner Miss Deplorable.
Lafta had one win from six starts in France in 2017 before joining Biancone's string earlier this year. She has raced twice at Gulfstream, winning her North American debut by 4 ¾ lengths Aug. 2 and returning with a 1 ¾-length score in the Monroe Stakes Sept. 29, both at 1 1/16 miles.
“We've run her twice and she won twice quite easily. She's a very, very talented filly,” Biancone said. “She has the advantage of being very manageable – she can wait or she can go in front. She's a very straightforward filly and we love the way she's training at the moment. It's one step up to go from a little stake to a strong Grade 3, but we like our chances.”
Along with her talent, Biancone has been impressed with Lafta's versatility. She came from off the pace to win first time out over a course labeled good, and was a front-running winner of the Monroe on firm ground.
“She's very manageable. It helps her because if there's a lot of pace in the race she can sit and if there's no pace she can take care of the situation herself,” Biancone said. “She'll have no problem with a mile or a mile and a sixteenth. I think she can run from 7 ½ to a mile and an eighth without a problem.”
Apprentice Romero Ramsay Maragh, aboard for each of her U.S. starts, will ride again at co-highweight of 121 pounds.
Also sharing the top impost are La Moneda and I'm Betty G. Patricia Moseley's New York hombred La Moneda capped a four-race win streak this summer in the Aug. 24 Yaddo Stakes at Saratoga and has made one start since, finishing second by a length in the Ticonderoga Stakes Oct. 20. Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride from Post 6.
Three Diamonds Farm's I'm Betty G put together a three-race win streak earlier this year, the last two coming at one mile in the Lady Canterbury Stakes June 23 and Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf Stakes Aug. 5. The 4-year-old Into Mischief filly also won the Pearl Necklace at Laurel Park and placed in the Commonwealth Oaks (G3) and Pin Oak Valley View Stakes (G3) in 2017.
Third in the 2017 Tropical Park Oaks and 2018 South Beach Stakes in two previous tries over the Gulfstream turf, I'm Betty G will have Tyler Gaffalione in the irons from Post 14.
Multiple graded-stakes placed Special Event, Kylla Instinct, Conquest Hardcandy, Corps de Ballet, Valentine Wish, Capla Temptress, Special Event, Artesian, Josdesanimaux, Pas de Soucis and Dixie Moon complete the field.
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