It was a super Sunday on the Gulfstream Park turf as two talented sophomores, both 2-1 favorites, ran up the score in a pair of $100,000 stakes. A Bit Special lived up to her name for Patrick Biancone in the Sweetest Chant (G3), and the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained A Thread of Blue wired the field in the Dania Beach.
A Bit Special had a new rider, Julien Leparoux, after her regular partner, Romero Maragh, suffered fractured vertebrae in a Thursday spill. The British-bred filly tracked the pace through fractions of :23.92, :48.36, and 1:12.05, readily struck the front rounding the turn, and kicked away to a handy 2 1/2-length decision. By clocking the firm-turf mile in 1:35.62, A Bit Special completed a stakes hat trick and extended her record to 5-4-1-0, $193,605.
Regal Glory held second from her Chad Brown stablemate La Feve, a French import who rallied for third in her American debut. Early leader Eyeinthesky tired to fourth. Another French newcomer, Ardara Belle, was rank in the initial stages and faded to last of nine.
Campaigned by Linda Shanahan, Mrs. M.V. Magnier and J.P. Magnier, A Bit Special is from the first crop of the top-class Shamardal stallion Mukhadram. She has toured the auction ring three times, bringing 15,000 guineas ($19,492) as a Tattersalls December weanling, €80,000 ($93,984) as a Goffs Orby yearling, and RNA’ing for $70,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Gulfstream Sale as a two-year-old in training.
A Bit Special has raced exclusively at Gulfstream so far. After rolling late to get up in her five-furlong unveiling August 19, she came up a neck shy in the September 1 Sharp Susan. A Bit Special did not drop as far back next time in the September 29 Our Dear Peggy, and promptly rebounded with a three-length victory. Her margin was a closer neck in the December 8 Wait a While last out.
Bred by the Lindum Partnership in Great Britain, A Bit Special is out of multiple California-bred stakes winner and Grade 1-placed Euro Empire. That Bartok mare is also responsible for Turkish champion Iskra and Moving Diamonds, the dam of multiple stakes-winning and Group-placed sprinter Dinkum Diamond.
Earlier in the Dania Beach, Leonard C. Green’s A Thread of Blue reprised his front-running allowance coup from December 22 with Luis Saez again at the helm. The well-bred son of Hard Spun dictated terms as he pleased in splits of :23.36, :47.66, and 1:11.41, quickened his last quarter to open up by 3 1/2 lengths, and polished off the mile in 1:34.96.
Runner-up Louder Than Bombs was a half-length up on Current, the 122-pound highweight who was conceding six pounds to the winner, as well as an insurmountable head start. Stirling Drive checked in fourth, while Casa Creed was a non-threatening sixth of 11.
A Thread of Blue was bred by the Niarchos Family’s Flaxman Holdings in Kentucky and first sold for $150,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Pinhooked at OBS March, he commanded $430,000 from Green’s D.J. Stable – now best known as the co-owner of newly minted champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Jaywalk.
All three of A Thread of Blue’s wins have come in wire-to-wire fashion, beginning with his off-the-turf Belmont maiden score October 7. So far, other tactics have not been as effective. Although his retreating sixth on the Saratoga dirt can be ignored as an educational debut, he settled for placings when not making the lead on turf. A Thread of Blue was second to Current in a September 8 maiden at Belmont and third in the Awad at Aqueduct November 4 before finding his style at Gulfstream. His resume now reads 6-3-1-1, $151,380.
Out of the Group 2-winning Seeking the Gold mare Enthused, the dark bay is a half-brother to Group 3 scorer Norman Invader, Grade 3-placed Ea, and the dams of Royal Ascot Group 3 victor Energizer as well as stakes queen Goldberry. A Thread of Blue’s second dam is 1988 Coronation (G1) winner Magic of Life, ancestress of South African star Inara and three-time Canadian International (G1) hero Joshua Tree, among others.