February 8, 2023

Mary’s a Mean front runner in La Prevoyante; Spooky surprise in McKnight

Mean Mary wired the La Prevoyante in her stakes debut (Zoe Metz/Coglianese Photos)

Alex G. Campbell Jr.’s homebred Mean Mary made a smashing stakes debut in Saturday’s $200,000 La Prevoyante (G3) at Gulfstream Park, raising hopes that the daughter of Scat Daddy and Grade 1 winner Karlovy Vary could be bound for the top level herself.

Trained by Graham Motion, the up-and-comer only just began her career in September. The 1 1/2-mile La Prevoyante represented a substantial step up both in class and distance, but Mean Mary’s tactical speed upgraded her chances in a race lacking in pace. Accordingly, Mean Mary was bet down from an 8-1 morning line to the 5-2 second choice, and she controlled affairs from the start.

Jockey Luis Saez nursed Mean Mary along through splits of :25.48, :51.60, 1:17.34, and 1:42.59 on the firm turf. Although the 6-5 favorite, Chad Brown’s comebacker La Paname, kept within striking range, she had no answer when the leader revved up the engine.

Mean Mary threw down her last half in :45.77, according to the chart, and stormed five lengths clear in a final time of 2:28.36. The 4-year-old became the second stakes winner on the card for the late Scat Daddy, following Atomic Blonde in the South Beach.

La Paname held second by 1 1/2 lengths from Touriga, the winner’s stablemate who rolled from far back to take third. The fourth and fifth, Raining Lemons and War Cabinet, also improved from poor early positions. Next came La Australiana; Aidan O’Brien’s Simply Beautiful, who was outpaced after the mile mark; Kelsey’s Cross; Get Explicit; and Latest Version.

Mean Mary’s resume reads 5-3-1-0, $201,000. Switched to turf after a debut fifth on the Laurel dirt, the dark bay wired a Keeneland maiden Oct. 12, placed second at Aqueduct Nov. 16, and gamely cleared her entry-level condition here over 9 furlongs on Dec. 22.

The Kentucky-bred is the second foal from fellow Campbell homebred Karlovy Vary, winner of the 2012 Ashland (G1). The Dynaformer mare descends from the family of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion War Pass.

Later at the same trip, the W.L. McKnight (G3) produced a much more surprising result as the 36-1 Spooky Channel nailed Cross Border in an exacta for sire English Channel.

Owned by Terry Hamilton, trained by Brian Lynch, and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Spooky Channel represents the same connections as Heart to Heart. Also a son of English Channel, Heart to Heart was well known for his prowess on the Gulfstream turf. Now that he’s retired to stud, Spooky Channel has upped his game as an unlikely successor.

The McKnight pace was quicker than the La Prevoyante. Cross Border, the 5-1 second choice, pressed the 116-1 Dubby Dubbie through fractions of :24.66, :49.28, 1:13.93, and 1:38.43. Taking charge on the final turn, Cross Border appeared to be in command down the lane, until Spooky Channel switched to his right lead and found another gear. Up in time by a neck, the 5-year-old gelding clocked 2:16.16 to earn his first graded victory.

Apreciado checked in another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Red Knight, the 4-5 favorite, made a big move from last but flattened out in fourth. Next came Carom, Pumpkin Rumble, Prince of Arabia, Dubby Dubbie, Shazier, Salute the Colonel, and American Tattoo. Temple was scratched.

Spooky Channel kicked off a superb double for breeder Calumet Farm, also responsible for Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) hero Zulu Alpha. A bargain $10,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling, Spooky Channel is out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Spooky Kitten, who placed in all three Canadian fillies’ classics in 2011.

Unraced until late in his sophomore year in 2018, Spooky Channel began his career with trainer Clay Brinson. His first eight starts came at Turf Paradise, where he climbed the ladder and reeled off five straight wins including a trio of non-black-type stakes. That earned him a trip to Canterbury Park for the June 22 Mystic Lake Mile. Although only sixth, Spooky Channel was given a chance at a higher level and transferred to Lynch. Seventh in the Arlington H. (G3) and shelved, he resumed with a troubled eighth in the Dec. 14 Ft. Lauderdale (G2). The stretch-out here suited him, and Spooky Channel increased his bankroll to $207,806 from his 12-7-2-0 record.