John Gunther and daughter Tanya, out of luck in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) with their homebred Without Parole, at least celebrated a score earlier as Atomic Blonde earned her first stakes laurel in the $150,000 South Beach. The lightly raced 4-year-old was also giving trainer Todd Pletcher his third win on the Gulfstream Park card, after promising sophomores Candy Tycoon and Market Analysis swept the maidens.
The complexion of the South Beach changed at the start when even-money favorite Mitchell Road was slow to go, and fellow pace type Conquest Hardcandy was even tardier out of the gate. In contrast, the 5-1 Atomic Blonde enjoyed a perfect stalk-and-pounce trip courtesy of Hall of Famer Javier Castellano. Capitalizing on an inside passage for the whole circuit, the Scat Daddy filly quickened up the rail to finish about 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:28.03.
Mitchell Road rallied to snatch second, 1 1/2 lengths adrift of the winner. La Feve was a close third, and Getmotherarose rounded out the superfecta.
Atomic Blonde was runner-up to eventual Mrs. Revere (G2) winner Nay Lady Nay in her Monmouth unveiling last August. The Gunther homebred went on to win her next two, a maiden on the Jersey Shore and a Belmont allowance, before a one-paced third in the Dec. 7 Winter Memories on a yielding Aqueduct course. Her scorecard now stands at 5-3-1-1, $182,840.
Trainer Peter Miller has another turf sprinter on the rise, as Texas Wedge prevailed in a stretch tussle in the $150,000 World of Trouble Turf Sprint. Reserved on the inside early by Flavien Prat, the California shipper angled out leaving the far turn, accosted Carotari, and ultimately asserted by a neck.
The top two each went off at 9-2, while the 25-1 Fielder edged 1-2 favorite Shekky Shebaz for third. Shekky Shebaz didn’t have the clearest of runs in the stretch but didn’t gain much once free.
The result might be viewed as delayed compensation for Miller, one year after scratching champion Stormy Liberal from this race when it was rained off the turf. The winner that day was World of Trouble, now retired to stud at Hill ‘n’ Dale and having his name affixed to the stakes.
Texas Wedge, who was coming off a breakthrough victory in the Joe Hernandez (G2) at Santa Anita, sped five furlongs in :55.84 to make it two straight. Miller, as agent, purchased the son of Colonel John for $30,000 as an OBS March 2-year-old, and he’s now earned $403,740 from a 14-6-3-2 line for owners Altamira Racing Stable, Rafter JR Ranch, STD Racing Stable, and A. Miller.
Bred by Nancy Shuford in Kentucky, Texas Wedge first sold for $27,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The bay gelding was produced by the winning Callmenancy, a Political Force half-sister to Grade 2 scorer Dancinginherdreams. This is the family of Group 1-placed Irish highweight Due Diligence.
The companion $150,000 Ladies’ Turf Sprint went in an even faster :55.26, with Jean Elizabeth extending her winning streak to six in her turf debut. The 5-2 second choice chased and then wore down 6-5 pacesetter Girls Know Best, edging a half-length clear for Irad Ortiz Jr. Keota raced in third throughout.
Jean Elizabeth is an Illinois homebred for trainer Larry Rivelli and Richard Ravin, who race her in partnership with Patricia’s Hope. The Adios Charlie mare, a nose away from sporting an eight-race skein, now boasts a sterling mark of 19-13-4-2, $562,668. Jean Elizabeth has won or placed in a dozen stakes on all surfaces. Her signature win came in the Oct. 19 Ontario Fashion (G3) over Woodbine’s Tapeta, and her skein also includes the Sweet Briar Too at Woodbine, the state-bred Powerless on the Hawthorne dirt, the Holiday Inaugural on the Turfway Polytrack, and Gulfstream’s off-the-turf Abundantia in her latest.
A full sister to multiple stakes winner Dugout and a half to Grade 3-placed What’s Up Dude, Jean Elizabeth gets her gray coat color from dam Rooney Doodle by Lit de Justice. Another current performer further back in the female line is American Pharoah (G1) runner-up American Theorem.