September 22, 2021

Ghalia remains unbeaten with Sunland Park Oaks triumph

Ghalia scored a neck victory over Kell Paso in the Sunland Park Oaks at Sunland Park on Sunday, March 26, 2017 (c) Sunland Park/Coady Photography

Sumaya U.S. Stable’s Ghalia moved her record to a perfect three-for-three on Sunday when rallying to catch Kell Paso in the shadow of the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks wire under jockey Jose Ortiz.

The bay daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was making her stakes bow in the 1 1/16-mile contest and settled into a stalking position behind most of the field. Soft Cheese led the way up front through splits of :22.41 and :45.75 while pressured by 9-5 favorite Noted and Quoted as well as Kell Paso.

It was that latter filly who moved up to take command when both the pacesetter and favorite faded, but Kell Paso found company in the form of What What What. As those two dueled, Ghalia was making her move on the outside. Kell Paso finally put away What What What and battled back when Ghalia ranged up to her outside, but could not withstand the winner’s rally.

Ghalia kept her neck in front on the wire while stopping the clock in 1:44.24 over the fast main track. She paid $6 as the 2-1 third choice. Kell Paso was best of the rest, 5 3/4 lengths up on What What What, who in turn had 2 1/4 lengths to spare on Conquest Slayer.

The Sunland Park Oaks is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks and awarded 50-20-10-5 points to the respective top four finishers. Ghalia debuted in fifth on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard while What What What took over the 20th spot. Neither Kell Paso nor Conquest Slayer are nominated to the Kentucky Oaks.

Soft Cheese and McKenzie Honey completed the order under the wire while Noted and Quoted faded badly, was eased in the stretch and walked off.

Ghalia has now banked $166,800 in her three-race career. The Todd Pletcher trainee wired her previous two starts at Gulfstream Park, breaking her maiden by 6 3/4 lengths while going six furlongs and then taking a 6 1/2-furlong allowance/optional claimer by 1 1/2 lengths.

Bred by in Kentucky by Edward A. Seltzer, Beverly Anderson and Darley, Ghalia is the first registered stakes winner out of the Canadian Grade 3-scoring Rahy mare Verdana Bold. Her third dam is multiple Grade 1-placed stakes heroine Harbour Club, who is a great-granddaughter of champion High Voltage.