February 23, 2018

Take Charge Paula, Miss Mo Mentum headline Forward Gal

Take Charge Paula captures the House Party Stakes under Paco Lopez at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, December 9, 2017 (c) Leslie Martin/Adam Coglianese Photography

A field of eight sophomore fillies will line up on Saturday at Gulfstream Park for the $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G3) going seven furlongs.

The race is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points contests, and will award 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four finishers.

Take Charge Paula makes her first start for new trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in this spot after beginning her career under the tutelage of Kelly Breen. Peter Deutsch purchased her privately after her last win in the House Party Stakes over a sloppy, sealed track at Gulfstream on December 9.

“We’re still getting to know her but she’s been lovely to have around and has done everything right,” McLaughlin said. “She’s training very well. It’s not going to be easy, but graded stakes aren’t supposed to be easy. We’re looking forward to the race and running her for us for the first time.”

Take Charge Paula easily captured her initial two starts, including the White Clay Creek Stakes at Delaware Park, before failing to factor when 10th in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2), an Oaks prep, next out at Churchill Downs. The dark bay miss then shipped to Belmont Park for the Matron Stakes (G3), and finished second. She took a trip to Laurel Park for a head score in the Smart Halo Stakes and Gulfstream Park to record a half-length triumph in the House Party Stakes in her past pair.

“She actually was just about 50 yards from us on the backstretch at Palm Meadows,” McLaughlin added. “She’s a multiple stakes winner, so we don’t really need to improve anything. We just hope to keep her the same. Kelly has done a great job and we hope that we can keep winning stakes with her and do as well with her as he has.”

The Take Charge Indy filly has raced at a different track in each of her six starts thus far, but stays at Gulfstream for the Forward Gal under regular rider Paco Lopez.

Miss Mo Mentum captured three of her last four, including her last pair by a combined 12 1/2 lengths. The Mark Casse trainee was no factor when making her debut at Gulfstream last July but switched to Saratoga’s turf next out and finished second going 1 1/16 miles. She was fourth in an off-the-turf contest at the Spa, then broke her maiden going a grassy mile at Churchill Downs in late September.

The dark bay daughter of Uncle Mo made her stakes bow in the Jessamine Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, but was well-beaten in last that day, before heading back to Churchill to take an off-the-turf allowance by 3 3/4 lengths in early November. Miss Mo Mentum enters the Forward Gal off an 8 3/4-length victory in the Hut Hut Stakes over a sloppy, sealed track at Gulfstream, and keeps Tyler Gaffalione aboard.

My Miss Lilly and Violent Times are each making their stakes bows in this spot following debut maiden wins.

My Miss Lilly scored a 2 1/2-length victory over a sloppy, sealed track Aqueduct on December 23 for trainer Mark Hennig. Javier Castellano held the reins that day and retains the mount.

“She’s a nice filly,” Hennig said. “She ran in the mud at Aqueduct and didn’t get away great that day but kind of rushed up and was right there after one call. Javier had a lot of confidence in her and he will ride her back so he’s got confidence in her going forward. She’s stepping up in class, obviously, but she’s doing very well.

“She’s got some spring in her step,” Hennig added. “She’s going to put the jockey up close but she’s always willing to rate in the morning and do everything you ask her to do. She just happened to be quicker than those that day. I think she’ll love more ground. She’s a big, leggy filly.”

Violent Times captured her initial outing at Gulfstream on Christmas Eve by four lengths for conditioner Ralph Nicks. The dark bay miss teams back up with jockey Edgard Zayas as she faces winners for the first time here.

Heavenhasmynikki puts her two-for-two mark on the line while making her stakes debut in this spot. The Anthony Quartarolo pupil broke her maiden by 5 1/4 lengths last October at Mahoning Valley and made her sophomore bow a head score at Gulfstream on January 15. Luis Saez will be aboard for the first time as the Majestic Warrior filly tackles stakes company.

Completing the Forward Gal field are Spendthrift Juvenile Filly Stallion Stakes heroine Sultry, dual stakes-placed Foxtrot Sally and stakes runner-up Morning Destiny.

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