Matalona Thoroughbreds' Florida homebred Stormy Embrace, whose multiple stakes wins include the Breeders' Cup-qualifying Princess Rooney (G2) this summer, goes after her first win since then in Saturday's $100,000 Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 37th running of the six-furlong Sugar Swirl and 40th renewal of the $100,000 Rampart (G3) at one mile, both for fillies and mares 3 and up, are among five graded-stakes worth $600,000 in purses on an 11-race program that begins with a noon first post.
Trained by Kathleen O'Connell, Stormy Embrace drew post 4 and is the 123-pound topweight with jockey Tyler Gaffalione aboard in a field of eight. The 4-year-old filly never got going when 11th in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 3 last time out.
“She came out of the Breeders' Cup really good,” O'Connell said. “It was just a rough trip. She was wide and there were a lot of horses. With that many horses, you had to have the trip.”
Her three most recent wins, including the June 30 Princess Rooney and May 19 Musical Romance Stakes at Gulfstream, have come at seven furlongs, but Stormy Embrace will cutting back in the Sugar Swirl. She has two wins, a second and a third from six career tries at six furlongs.
“She's had a great year. Six furlongs isn't really her deal, and you hate to take a horse that's doing great out of her element,” O'Connell said. “She's training great and she loves Gulfstream. At the end of the day, we try to do what's best for the horse.”
Stonestreet Stables Dream Pauline, a homebred daughter of Tapit out of the Wild Rush mare Dream Rush, will make her graded-stakes debut in the Sugar Swirl. The 3-year-old filly has raced only three times, winning her debut last December at Aqueduct.
She wasn't seen again until beating older horses in an entry-level allowance Aug. 2 at Saratoga, then ran third following a tough trip in the Dream Supreme Stakes Nov. 4 after being sent to Kentucky with designs on the Breeders' Cup. All three of her starts have come at six furlongs.
“She won the a-other-than at Saratoga and then she didn't get in the Breeders' Cup. We were hoping to get in and then she ran the next day against older fillies. She just had a rough trip,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “She got checked pretty hard a couple times down the backside. She's a nice filly, better than that. We're looking forward to the race. She's very talented and very well-bred.”
William Rainbow's homebred Surprise Wedding won a seven-furlong optional claimer Sept. 30 at Gulfstream and hasn't raced since finishing 10th in a similar spot on the Gulfstream Park West turf Oct. 24. The High Cotton filly won the City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes to cap her 2017 campaign.
“She just doesn't like the grass that much and for some reason she doesn't do any good across town. I don't know why. She likes Gulfstream, so we're expecting her to run good,” trainer David Fawkes said. “She's doing really, really good. We're looking forward to the race. I think seven-eighths is her best distance but we'll give her a shot and see how it goes.”
Also entered are multiple stakes winners Bronx Beauty and Proper Discretion, Pacific Gale, Awestruck and Money Or Love.
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