A concerted effort to save as much ground as possible by both the trainer and the jockey of Mystic Love resulted in victory in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
The 2-year-old Maryland-bred filly proved superior to the boys in the one-mile turf stakes because trainer Jessica Campitelli didn't want to stretch her out as far as 1 1/16 miles in an upcoming filly stakes and because jockey Elvis Trujillo never left the rail during a well-executed ride.
“We believed in her. It was more that we really didn't want to go a mile and a sixteenth for her first time going two turns,” said Campitelli, who had the option to wait until Jan. 1 to run Mystic Love against fillies in the $100,000 Ginger Brew at 1 1/16 miles. “So we chose to run against the boys.”
And, boy, did she run.
Mystic Love, sent to post at 16-1, broke alertly from her inside post position to settle in third along the inside as Tate's Landing, stalked by Reporting Star, set the pace around the first turn and along the backstretch. When an opening appeared inside a tiring Tate's Landing on the turn into the homestretch, Trujillo alertly sent his filly through the hole to take the lead at the top of the stretch. The daughter of Not for Love opened up a two-length lead in mid-stretch and had enough in reserve from her ground-saving trip to hold off a Charming Kitten, the fast-closing even-money favorite, by a half-length.
“It was a perfect trip. I saw in the program there was one horse with speed, so I sat behind,” Trujillo said. “At the three-eighths pole we had a little room and it was time for us to go. This is a very nice horse.”
Charming Kitten, ridden by John Velazquez, finished a length in front of third-place finishers Newfound Zapper and Joel Rosario.
“It was a perfect trip until I got to the quarter pole, when two horses bolted in front of me,” Velazquez said. “Mystic Love got through and the race was over.”
Mystic Love, who ran the mile on a good turf course in 1:38.81, had been victorious in her two prior turf starts, both at 5 1/2 furlongs, at Laurel, where she was trained by Campitelli's husband, Francis Campitelli.
“She's always trained like: the longer the better, really,” said Francis Campitelli, who joined his wife in the winner's circle. “Her getting the distance wasn't a great surprise. I was more surprised she was able to win at 5 ½.”
Mystic Love, who finished fifth in a Maryland-bred stakes on the Laurel main track in her only other start, will likely return to action in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant, a mile turf stakes for fillies, on Jan. 27.
“We'll go in the next filly race, because that's also a mile, so it'll work out good,” Francis Campitelli said.
Trainer JESSICA CAMPITELLI (Mystic Love): (On running against colts) “We believed in her. It was more that we really didn't want to go a mile and a sixteenth for her first time going two turns. So we chose to run against the boys.”
(On Elvis Trujillo's ride) “It was excellent. He saved ground. He waited and saved ground. He rode an excellent race.”
FRANCIS CAMPITELLI (Maryland trainer, Mystic Love) – “We'll go in the next filly race (Sweetest Chant, Jan. 27), because that's also a mile, so it'll work out good.”
Jockey ELVIS TRUJILLO (Mystic Love): “It was a perfect trip. I saw in the program there was one horse with speed, so I sat behind. At the three-eighths pole we had a little room and it was time for us to go. This is a very nice horse.”
Jockey JOHN VELAZQUEZ (Charming Kitten): “It was a perfect trip until I got to the quarter pole, when two horses bolted in front of me, Mystic Love got through and the race was over.”
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