Bettors looking to beat returning champion Vequist in Saturday’s $200,000 Davona Dale S. (G2) had the right idea, but the logical alternatives disappointed, and it was the 52-1 Wholebodemeister who scored a breakout victory at Gulfstream Park. Cruising on the front end with Edgard Zayas, the Juan Avila trainee opened up to earn 50 points toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Vequist, the 1-2 favorite, traveled in a good spot before retreating to ninth.
Wholebodemeister was coming off a useful third to Zaajel in the Forward Gal (G3), where she picked up her first two Oaks points. The Sabana Farm homebred had been unplaced in her prior stakes tilts, winding up sixth in the Ellis Park Debutante last summer and seventh in the Dec. 5 Sandpiper at Tampa Bay Downs. Yet the Forward Gal proved to be the turning point rather than an outlier.
“Last time, it was a troubled trip,” Zayas told Gulfstream publicity. “She’s still learning a lot. I remember last time she was between horses and she didn’t like it. The last eighth she found some space and she went through it and only got beat by a little more than a length. I knew she would be solid if I could keep her in the clear. My plan was just to break out of there, put her on the lead and see what she got.”
The plan worked, to the tune of a $107.60 winner. Drawn on the rail, the Bodemeister filly flashed speed out of the gate and did her sire proud. Adios Trippi ranged up to head her through an opening quarter in :22.80, but was working harder. Wholebodemeister smoothly regained the advantage at the half in :45.83, began to get away from the field through six furlongs in 1:10.40, and clocked the mile in 1:36.89 in a 6 1/2-length romp.
Crazy Beautiful closed for second, adding 20 Oaks points for an overall tally of 28. Off at 9-1, Crazy Beautiful was the only filly in the superfecta who was not a big longshot. The 53-1 Competitive Speed, who made a bid into contention on the far turn, held third and its 10 points. The 84-1 Pens Street checked in fourth, good for five points.
Curlin’s Catch raced in proximity to Vequist as an early stalker and stuck on for fifth, followed by Happy Constitution; Millefeuille, the 3.40-1 second choice, who was shuffled back on the far turn; Three Tipsy Chix; and Vequist, who was eased as the last across the wire. Adios Trippi was pulled up but walked off, according to the chart.
Wholebodemeister’s scorecard stands at 7-3-0-1, $175,922, and 52 Oaks points that put her second overall (to Clairier’s 54) on the leaderboard.
“I’m very happy, very happy. She’s ready for the next race (Mar. 27 Gulfstream Park Oaks[G2]),” Avila said via an interpreter. “She’s little but she has a big heart. She’s super hyper and is difficult to train, but I had a lot of confidence in her because when she breezes, she’s really good.”
The Kentucky-bred was produced by the Grade 3-placed Scat Daddy mare Wholelottashakin, who is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Dewars Rocks.