Gulfstream Park offered a smorgasbord of turf stakes on Saturday’s Fountain of Youth (G2) undercard, three featuring the filly and mare division. Favorites swept all three, two for trainer Chad Brown.
Peter Brant’s Precieuse had a class edge in the $150,000 Honey Fox (G3), as the winner of the 2017 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) (G1), and needed every bit of it on ground that might have been plenty firm enough for her.
Making just her second stateside start, Precieuse has raced only once in the past 20 months. That was the August 4 De La Rose at Saratoga, where she was just nailed by her smart stablemate Uni.
The comebacker was dispatched as the even-money favorite with Javier Castellano, who saved ground as long as prudent from her rail post. Held up well off the honest tempo set by La Signare through fractions of :23.51, :46.51, and 1:10.12, Precieuse tipped out entering the far turn and began to improve her position.
Meanwhile, the rail-skimming Valedictorian gained on the flagging La Signare, angled out, and drove past. Precieuse worked into her way into contention wider out and kept on finding for the length of the stretch. Finally subduing Valedictorian by a half-length, the European import completed the mile in 1:34.14.
Valedictorian, who was spotting Precieuse six pounds as the 123-pound co-highweight, had three-quarters of a length to spare over fast-finishing Bellavais, the other co-highweight. Hogans Holiday went last to fourth. Next came Fire Key, La Signare, Conquest Hardcandy, Dolce Lili, Scotty’s Model, and Valentine Wish.
Precieuse sports a mark of 9-3-5-0, $485,214. Originally trained by Fabrice Chappet in France, the daughter of Tamayuz scored both of her wins on very soft going, a Fontainebleau maiden and the Pouliches as a 33-1 surprise. She also finished second in the Prix Sigy (G3), Prix Yacowlef, and Prix Zeddaan.
Bred by Knocktoran Stud in Ireland, Precieuse was produced by the Group 3-placed Pivotal mare Zut Alors, who is also responsible for Group 3-placed Peut Etre and stakes-placed Baccarat. Zut Alors is herself a half to Group 2-winning Italian co-highweight Combat Zone and Group 3 victors Scottish and Royal Empire.
OXO Equine’s Cambier Parc, the $1.25 million daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and Canadian Horse of the Year Sealy Hill, captured her stakes debut in the $150,000 Herecomesthebride (G3) for sophomores. The market correctly identified her as the pick of the Brown trio, and the 4-5 favorite benefited from a tactically astute ride by Jose Ortiz.
The newly blinkered Belle Laura showed speed, relatively speaking, to dictate fractions of :24.48, :49.67, and 1:13.13. Cambier Parc attended in second, applying increasing pressure, until wresting control turning for home. The bay held sway by three-quarters of a length while clocking 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.03.
Princesa Carolina, Pure Clan’s filly by Tapit, stayed on stoutly to complete the exacta produced by high-class racemares. Belying her 21-1 odds, Princesa Carolina stands to improve going longer. Belle Laura checked in another half-length astern in third, followed by Primela, Vow to Recover, Brown’s other runners Golconda and Connectivity, and My Gal Betty.
Bred by Bonne Chance Farm in Kentucky, Cambier Parc is a half-sister to Canadian champion Hillaby and Grade 3 heroines Belle Hill and Gale Force. The Keeneland September graduate has been favored in all three starts so far. After a fourth at muddy Aqueduct November 3, Cambier Parc prospered on the stretch-out and switch to turf in a January 2 maiden at this course and distance. Her scorecard now stands at 3-2-0-0, $120,210.
Stronach Stables’ homebred Holy Helena became the first two-time winner of the $150,000 The Very One (G3) by determinedly forcing her head in front of would-be stealer Ickymasho. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., the 2-1 favorite finished 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.20.
The time reflects the slow pace set by Ickymasho, the 24-1 longest shot on the board who got away with splits of :23.89, :49.31, and 1:13.81. Holy Helena kept tabs on the leader in a ground-saving third. When Ickymasho tried to give the slip through a mile in 1:37.22, Holy Helena picked it up on the far turn and arrived on the premises in upper stretch. Ickymasho didn’t stop, though, and clung on grimly for Jose Ortiz. His brother aboard the favorite had to work hard to get on top at the wire.
Another 3 1/2 lengths back in third came Semper Sententiae. Tricky Escape fared best of the deep closers in fourth, just missing the show spot by a neck, but unfortunately was vanned off according to the chart. Danceland rallied from last for fifth. Lafta, who tracked Ickymasho early, retreated to sixth. The Tulip never factored after being rank in the initial stages, and A. A. Azula’s Arch trailed. The main-track-only Eskimo Kisses was scratched.
Canada’s champion three-year-old filly of 2017, Holy Helena has bankrolled $1,175,578 from a 16-7-3-2 line. The Ghostzapper mare was snapping a losing skid, her last win coming in the May 15 Sheepshead Bay (G2) at Belmont Park, but she had been a shade unlucky since returning to Gulfstream in late fall. Stuck in traffic when coming up a neck shy in the December 29 Via Borghese, she was a belated sixth in the January 26 La Prevoyante (G3) on yielding going. Her resume also boasts the Queen’s Plate/Woodbine Oaks double during her Sovereign Award campaign, and placings in the Ontario Derby (G3), Dance Smarty (G2), and Turnback the Alarm (G3).
The Ontario-bred five-year-old is a half-sister to Grade 2-winning sprinter Holy Boss, the pair out of Holy Grace by Holy Bull.