Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated, a distant second when Bullards Alley shocked last October’s Canadian International (G1), turned the tables in Saturday’s $200,000 W.L. McKnight (G3) in different conditions at Gulfstream Park.
Under a well-judged ride by new Eclipse Award winner Jose Ortiz, Oscar Nominated was nestled within striking range of the early crawl, and the 7-2 chance thereby got the decisive jump on 2-1 favorite Bullards Alley. Up front, world-famous Frankie Dettori (in town for Toast of New York in the Pegasus World Cup [G1]) was doing best to try to steal it aboard Infinite Wisdom after an opening quarter in :24.66. But his mount couldn’t take advantage of his pedestrian splits of :50.35, 1:16.35, and 1:42.15 on the firm turf.
Ortiz sent Oscar Nominated on the final turn, and the son of Kitten’s Joy swiftly pounced to lead straightening into the stretch. Bullards Alley took time not only switching off the rail, but also to wind up. His full brother, Nessy, showed the sharper turn of foot to close from last on the outside.
The brother act had to settle for the minors, though, as Oscar Nominated was not to be caught. Holding on by a half-length from Nessy, who nipped Bullards Alley in a photo for second, Oscar Nominated completed 1 1/2 grassy miles in 2:30.08. Gold Shield, in contention in the lane, was another neck astern in fourth, while Infinite Wisdom retreated to eighth of nine.
Oscar Nominated has yet to reach the Grade 1 heights of his full brother, Oscar Performance, but he’s bankrolled $1,416,331 from a line of 24-6-7-2. The winner of the 2016 Spiral (G3), Dueling Grounds Derby, and Black Gold S., the chestnut added last year’s Kentucky Cup Turf (G3). He’s placed in eight stakes, most notably the 2017 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) and Mervin Muniz Memorial (G2) aside from the Canadian International.
Both Oscar Nominated and Oscar Performance – the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) hero who conquered last season’s Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and Secretariat (G1) – are by Kitten’s Joy and out of the stakes-winning Theatrical mare Devine Actress. Oscar Performance still races for breeder Mrs. Jerry Amerman, but Oscar Nominated was claimed by the Ramseys as a juvenile.
The Ramseys, Maker, and Ortiz almost pulled the turf marathon double, but their Daring Duchess was just run down by Texting earlier in the companion $200,000 La Prevoyante (G3). Sarah Farish’s homebred was breaking through with her first career stakes victory. In the process, the daughter of Candy Ride provided her sire with an early highlight on the card, ahead of his Horse of the Year son Gun Runner’s appearance as the hot favorite in the Pegasus.
With Apple Betty bet down to 4-5 favoritism, Texting drifted up to 7-1, despite her trainer/jockey tandem of Chad Brown and Javier Castellano. She was overlooked thanks to her being stuck on her second-level allowance condition, and her stakes results so far. A one-paced third in the Long Island (G3) two back at Aqueduct, her only prior start at this 1 1/2-mile distance, Texting warmed up with a closing fifth in the 1 3/16-mile Via Borghese here December 30.
As Daring Duchess set the pace through fractions of :23.68, :48.24, 1:13.00, and 1:37.85, Texting was patiently handled and bided her time. Apple Betty, on the other hand, endured a wide trip and launched a middle move, only to weaken rounding the final turn. By that point, Texting was kicking into gear, and she wore down Daring Duchess by three-quarters of a length at the wire. She stopped the timer in 2:27.88 and furnished a $16.80 win mutuel.
Three lengths back came Taralena, who ran evenly in third. The slow-starting Summersault reported home fourth, followed by Beauly, Apple Betty, and Miss Nancy.
Texting’s resume now reads 12-3-1-3, $273,362. The Kentucky-bred was produced by the multiple stakes-winning Kingmambo mare Mumbo Jumbo, also the dam of stakes scorer Trusty Temper, Grade 2-placed Island School, and Grade 3-placed sire Crossword.
Quotes from Gulfstream Park
Trainer Chad Brown on Texting: “She’s a horse who has always been knocking on the door. It maybe took a little time for her to just get the right trip and come around a little bit more. We’ve obviously thought enough of her to try her in a stake before. I’m really proud of her. I thought Javier (Castellano) really rode a good race. For this distance it was a very strong pace in front of them for the first half of the race and I think it really set up for her well.”
Winning rider Javier Castellano: “I had a beautiful trip, it was as good of a trip as any jockey would like to have. There were a few horses with good speed and we were able to settle around the first turn. I like what she did and I was very impressed with the way she finished in a mile and a half. I basically enjoyed the ride.”