Katsumi Yoshida’s The Mackem Bullet was back to her best in Sunday’s $200,000 Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland, possibly her stepping stone to the 1000 Guineas (G1) on May 5. The Wesley Ward trainee is also engaged in the French equivalent a week later, but Newmarket would be likelier if she advances to a European classic.
Just denied by Aidan O’Brien’s Fairyland in the Cheveley Park (G1) and Lowther (G2) last season, The Mackem Bullet was sixth behind Newspaperofrecord in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in her finale for Yorkshire-based Brian Ellison. She remained stateside to join Ward and raced twice at Turfway Park this winter, trouncing entry-level allowance foes on New Year’s Eve but checking in fourth in the February 15 John Battaglia.
That loss versus the boys on the Polytrack might have prompted bettors to let her go at a generous 6-1 in this return to turf. Chad Brown sent out the top two choices, 8-5 favorite Cause coming off a debut score and 3-1 Regal Glory, but The Mackem Bullet’s juvenile class reasserted itself in spades.
Well handled by new rider Tyler Gaffalione, the Irish-bred shadowed pacesetter Catch a Thrill through fractions of :24.14, :49.21, and 1:14.72 on the soft course. Any concern about her effectiveness on the going was obliterated in the blink of an eye as she burst clear in the stretch. Regal Glory made good headway, only much too late, and settled for second.
The Mackem Bullet held sway by 1 1/4 lengths while finishing the mile in 1:39.31. Her Yoshida silks were particularly apt for the winner’s circle presentation, since the Appalachian is sponsored by the Japan Racing Association.
Princesa Carolina, in touch early, was outpaced late in third and again shaped like one who wants further. Hard Legacy got up for fourth, followed by Winning Envelope; Primela; Catch a Thrill; Clause, who raced a tad keenly when tracking the leader; Angel Alessandra; Ward’s other runner, Naughty Joker; and Beautiful Ballad.
“We had a perfect trip,” Gaffalione recapped. “She broke sharp and put herself right in the race. The speed went on and we sat second. I had a ton of horse going all the way around. When we turned for home, I (tapped) her on the shoulder once and she kicked on. She was just cruising out there.”
“She’s really done well here over the winter,” Ward said. “I always thought she’d probably prefer the grass (to Polytrack). She had a beautiful breeze here last week over the grass. There was a little question mark about the surface today but I spoke to (previous) trainer Brian Ellison in England twice and he assured me she’d be OK, and she was.
“When Brian sent her to me, the idea was to go back to the Guineas, so we’ll have to see what they want to do. I’m lucky they chose me to train her.”
The Mackem Bullet’s resume reads 10-3-2-2, $305,100. The Society Rock filly scored her first win in a Carlisle novice, progressed to place third in the Princess Margaret (G3), and almost upset Fairyland at 25-1 in the Lowther. Yoshida purchased her privately thereafter. More details on her two-year-old form are available in the Breeders’ Cup international scouting report for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Bred by Tally-Ho Stud in the Emerald Isle, The Mackem Bullet was a bargain buy for 9,000 ($11,596) at the Goffs UK Silver Yearling Sale. The bay is out of the winning Trade Fair mare Elkmait, who is in turn a half-sister to Japanese graded scorers Moonquake, Bounce Shasse, and Contra Check as well as Stubbs Art, third in the English and Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) in 2008.
Owned by LNJ Foxwoods and trained by Ben Colebrook, the 5-2 chance took the lead under a cleverly opportunistic ride by Luis Saez. The 2-1 Mother Mother did not show much zip on the inside as forecast, so Saez took full advantage of Fancy Dress Party’s sharp break. Feedback also was quick into stride, but eased back to stalk in the scratch-reduced field.
As a result, Fancy Dress Party had things her way through splits of :22.57 and :45.55, and entered the stretch still galloping with gusto. Mother Mother worked her way into a contending position on the rail, drew closer at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.01, and whittled the margin to a head. But Fancy Dress Party was still in front at the wire, completing the seven furlongs and 184 feet of the Beard Course in 1:28.18.
Although the Beaumont was worth a few points toward the Kentucky Oaks, Fancy Dress Party’s 10-point award wouldn’t get her very far on the leaderboard – if such a dramatic step up in trip were ever in the cards anyway. Mother Mother, whose limitations versus likely Oaks favorite Bellafina have been exposed, earned 4 more points to increase her tally to 11.
Feedback, scratched from a two-turn bow in Saturday’s Ashland (G1), kept splashing away on the outside without presenting a serious challenge. Her third was worth 2 points, moving her total to 12. For whatever it’s worth, that puts her 26th on the list, but one-turn events were reportedly in her immediate future.
Another Time took home 1 point for finishing 10 1/4 lengths back in fourth. Iva never recovered after being checked in close quarters and trailed home a long-way last. Power Gal, Queen of Beas, and Shanghai Rain were scratched.
Fancy Dress Party, who broke her maiden in the slop here last fall, has since taken an entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs and romped in the restricted Glitter Woman at Gulfstream Park. Now four-for-four, she’s bankrolled $222,405.
Colebrook commented on the Beaumont tactics.
“I could see (Fancy Dress Party getting the early lead), but the horses you expected to be the speed didn’t really break well and looked like they might have been fighting the racetrack,” her trainer said. “(Fancy Dress Party) was going so smooth and within herself that I was happy we were on the lead.
“I thought ‘well she’s doing it’ and looks to be running them off their feet. It wasn’t the game plan, but credit to (jockey) Luis (Saez) for going with Plan B. I think if he takes her back, we don’t win the race. It was an amazing ride.”
“I thought number 2 (Mother Mother) was the speed,” Saez said. “But (Fancy Dress Party) broke so clean and so well, we stayed there (on the lead) and we took it. She was very comfortable. I felt like I had a lot of horse, and when we got to the stretch, she just kept going.”
Bred by Doug Arnold in Kentucky, Fancy Dress Party commanded $280,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The blaze-faced dark bay is the second headliner in two days for sire Munnings, whose juvenile Lady Pauline (the half to Lady Aurelia) turned in a jaw-dropping debut Friday.
Fancy Dress Party is a full sister to stakes winner Will Munnings, the pair out of the winning Matty G mare The Schvagen. Second dam Mea is a daughter of two Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) near-missers, Dayjur (1990) and Meafara (1992-93).