September 24, 2023

Zaajel, Competitive Speed the fillies to beat in Forward Gal

Zaajel wins their maiden at Gulfstream Park (Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson)

Forward Gal S. (G3) — Race 9 (3:46 p.m. ET)

In addition to Prime Factor in the Holy Bull (G3), trainer Todd Pletcher might also have the horse to beat in Saturday’s $100,000 Forward Gal S. (G3) in Zaajel, who’ll step up from a dominant maiden win to tackle winners for the first time in the 7-furlong Road to the Kentucky Oaks series prep at Gulfstream Park.

A homebred daughter of Street Sense racing for Shadwell Stable, Zaajel had a successful debut on Dec. 26 over the Forward Gal distance, winning as she pleased by 7 1/4 lengths after stalking the early pace.

“She was very impressive in her debut and she’s trained great since then,” Pletcher said. “Ideally, I’d kind of like to run her in an allowance race, but we don’t really have an option at the moment.”

The most accomplished of her opponents is Competitive Speed, whose three-race win streak includes a three-length decision in the Jan 2. Glitter Woman S. over 6 1/2 furlongs.

“This is going to be a big test, but I think she can make it,” trainer Javier Gonzalez said. “She’s doing good and she is one of those horses that is never going to make you look bad.”

Lady Traveler finished second in the Rags to Riches S. at Churchill last October for Dale Romans, but shortens up after being outrun in the Golden Rod (G2) the following month. Coach Jer’s Joy, from the Saffie Joseph barn, won her debut by two lengths at Gulfstream Park West on Oct. 31 and is less exposed than several others.

Sweetest Chant S. (G3) — Race 10 (4:18 p.m. ET)

The $100,000 Sweetest Chant S. (G3), for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf, features a competitive field headed by Con Lima and Honey Pants, the one-two finishers in the Ginger Brew S. earlier this month.

Others that could impact include allowance heroine Lionessofbrittany, the stakes-placed Director’s Cut, and recent maiden winners Domain Expertise, White Frost, and Candace O.