December 6, 2022

Crystalle gets compensation in P.G. Johnson

Crystalle and jockey Joel Rosario capture the P. G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga on Thursday, August 29, 2019 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography

Disqualified for interference from a smashing 41-1 debut at Saratoga, Crystalle gained compensation with another last-to-first performance in Thursday’s $100,000 P.G. Johnson. The 8-5 favorite was along in time to catch Sweet Melania and enhance her hopes for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

Crystalle became the first black-type winner for freshman sire Palace Malice, one day after fellow freshman Summer Front registered a similar breakthrough with Fighting Seabee in the With Anticipation (G3). And Crystalle’s victory came at the expense of another freshman, American Pharoah, sire of Sweet Melania.

The 5-2 second choice, Sweet Melania worked out a more straightforward trip than the winner. Crystalle figured to be unhurried early, but it didn’t help that the gate opened just as her head was turned. Instead of easing back on her own terms as in her first start, now the John Kimmel pupil broke in a scramble and spent the early stages finding her rhythm.

Meanwhile, Sweet Melania was parked a few lengths off the pace set by Apurate, her stablemate from the Todd Pletcher barn, who carved out fractions of :23.29, :47.19, and 1:11.44 on the form Mellon turf. Sweet Melania rallied turning for home, picked up the baton from Apurate, and edged clear.

Then Crystalle began to unwind for new rider Joel Rosario. The rangy dark bay hit a flat spot in midstretch and appeared bound for a minor award, only to lurch into top gear in the final yards. Still looking like the unfinished article compared to Sweet Melania, Crystalle collared her by a neck in a final time of 1:41.36 for 1 1/16 miles. Trakus clocked her last sixteenth in :6.03.

The English Channel filly English Breeze, another with a long-term profile, closed in :6.06 to snatch third, just a half-length off Sweet Melania. Another three lengths back came Ginseng, who fared best of the early pace factors. Apurate, Lively Kitten, and Lucky Jingle rounded out the order of finish. Sunset Promise, scratched from this spot, is cross-entered to Saturday’s Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies.

Bred by Glendalough Inc. in Kentucky, Crystalle RNA’d for $85,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Kimmel went to $220,000 to secure her at OBS in April, as agent for Tobey L. Morton who campaigns her with Chuck Hovitz. Crystalle ran out an authoritative 2 1/4-length winner over the P.G. Johnson course and distance August 4, but the stewards deemed her guilty of lugging in and costing the third-placer, Sparkling Sky, a better placing. Thus she was demoted to third, and the runner-up Sketches of Spain was elevated as the official winner in a controversial call. Crystalle had no such fracas here, upping her bankroll to $65,800 from her 2-1-0-1 line.

Kimmel, who was already thinking Breeders’ Cup before, has circled the September 29 Miss Grillo (G2) at Belmont Park as her stepping stone to Santa Anita.

Crystalle’s dam, the Flatter mare Undo, is a full sister to Grade 2 winner Apart from the further family of Australian Group 1 hero Delectation. She descends from the blue hen *La Troienne via Lady Wimborne.

As a daughter of the Curlin stallion Palace Malice, Crystalle is interestingly bred along similar lines to a few of Curlin’s top performers. Her pattern is reminiscent of the Curlin/Seattle Slew crosses that have produced champion Stellar Wind, classic winner Exaggerator, Off the Tracks, and current graded scorers Global Campaign, Mylady Curlin, Tenfold and Point of Honor.

Quotes from NYRA

Winning trainer John Kimmel: “I guess they just got a little tired up front and made her kick a little stronger. She was able to get up just in the nick of time.

“With these horses their second time out, you’re always wondering about their change in demeanor and now that they know something about it, are they going to be aggressive and not settle? I was kind of worried she wouldn’t settle. But the way it worked out, she was well behind the field and gradually picked up her horses…obviously had to go pretty wide to get around them. At the eighth pole, I didn’t think she had enough. She kind of stalled a bit but then she got her second wind a little bit and got up just in time.

“I worked her and she had been getting out footed with some of the sharp two-year-old colts, and I figured if I sprinted her on the dirt, she was going to get a facial and a bad experience. We took her one day, breezed her on the turf and she did real well. Then we ran her in that race (her debut) not really knowing what to expect. She didn’t have much early speed, but she did have a good late kick. That’s a good thing to have.

“We’re thinking about Breeders’ Cup. Now, we’ll probably point to the Miss Grillo and take it from there.”

Winning rider Joel Rosario: “She came with a nice run in the end. She ran a big race on the turf last time and she keeps proving herself. She was more professional today. She knows what she’s doing up there. It was a pretty strong run. It looks like she has a bright future, so we’ll see what happens.”