Although one of the slowest out of the gate in Saturday’s $100,000 Forward Gal S. (G3), odds-on favorite Zaajel was the fastest to the finish as she improved her record to 2-for-2 for owner-breeder Shadwell Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher in the seven-furlong test for three-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park.
Advancing wide from the rear of the field down the backside into a contending position around the far turn, Zaajel overtook the longshot pacesetter Queen Arella entering the stretch and hung tough while under a drive from Luis Saez all the way to wire. The winning margin was 1 1/4 lengths and the final time over a fast track was 1:24.72. Zaajel paid $3.20.
“I was pretty concerned at the start. She got a little antsy in the gate and missed the break, and she put in a long, sustained run,” Pletcher said. “That’s hard to do, especially in her second start going from a maiden to a graded stake. But she’s trained like a quality filly and she overcame some adversity today so we’re proud of her.”
Finishing second was Lady Traveler, who finished a half-length ahead of Wholebodemeister. Following her were Dial to Win, Coach Jer’s Joy, Competitive Speed, Three Tipsy Chix, and Queen Arella.
The Forward Gal was a Road to the Kentucky Oaks series event which awarded qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to Zaajel, Lady Traveler, Wholebodemeister, and Dial to Win, respectively.
Preceding this win with a career-opening, 7 1/4-length romp against maiden foes on Dec. 20, also over Gulfstream’s seven-furlong trip, Zaajel has now earned $84,140.
Bred in Kentucky, Zaajel is by Street Sense and out of the stakes-placed Asiya, by Daaher. Also hailing from this family are Grade 1 winner Liaison and multiple Grade 2 turf star United.
Sweetest Chant (G3)
White Frost also made a successful jump from maiden to stakes on Saturday, running down the favored Con Lima to take the $100,000 Sweetest Chant S. (G3) for three-year-old fillies by a length under Junior Alvarado.
The Gainesway Stable homebred, sent off at 9-2 following a turf debut victory in late November, was allowed to settle in a ground-saving position in sixth as Con Lima led the way. On the hunt for a seam to weave through turning for home, White Frost found one while make a three-wide bid and kicked home to prevail in a time of 1:34.45 for one mile on the firm turf.
Trained by Bill Mott, White Frost paid $11. Con Lima, the 13-10 choice, finished one length ahead of Domain Expertise. The order of finish was rounded out by Candace O, Honey Pants, Queen of the Green, Director’s Cut, and Lionessofbrittany.
Fourth and second in her first two starts on the main track, White Frost broke through at Aqueduct on Nov. 21 when trying the turf for the first time, registering a 1 1/4-length graduation at odds of 7-1. Her record now stands at 4-2-1-0, $123,920.
Bred in Kentucky, White Frost is by Candy Ride and out of the multiple stakes-winning Miss Frost, by Curlin. White Frost descends from Grade 1 winner Pharma and the European champion sprinter Committed, and hails from the family of 2007 champion turf male English Channel.