December 3, 2023

Pauline’s Pearl rallies in Fleur de Lis; Bango wins Kelly’s Landing for second time

Pauline's Pearl came out on top in a three-runner Fleur de Lis (Photo by Coady Photography)

Saturday’s $367,000 Fleur de Lis (G2) at Ellis Park lost more than half of its original field due to scratches, leaving just three older fillies and mares to battle it out over 1 1/8 miles. Pauline’s Pearl, who theoretically might have been at a tactical disadvantage after trailing most of the way, nonetheless got the job done in deep stretch under Joel Rosario.

The second choice in the wagering though coming off of two dull performances, Pauline’s Pearl returned to better form by staying within 2 1/2 lengths of her rivals throughout and grinding her way to a three-quarters of a length victory. The pacesetting Bellamore held off odds-on favorite A Mo Reay for second by a neck, but was disqualified and placed third after bumping into that rival through the stretch.

For Pauline’s Pearl, a five-year-old daughter of Tapit, it was a form reversal from the March 11 Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, which A Mo Reay had won while Pauline’s Pearl languished in eighth. Pauline’s Pearl hadn’t fared much better better last out in her title defense of the La Troienne (G1) at Churchill Downs in early May, in which she finished a nondescript sixth of 10.

“We thought if she got away well and could be a little closer today, she could be effective,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.

A homebred racing for Stonestreet Stables, Pauline’s Pearl paid $6.52 after covering one lap of the fast Ellis oval in 1:49.59.

This was the first win for Pauline’s Pearl since her successful title defense of the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) on Jan. 28. In addition to her two wins at Sam Houston, the La Troienne, and the Fleur de Lis, Pauline’s Pearl also accounted for the Fantasy (G3), Charles Town Oaks (G3), and Zia Park Oaks in 2021.

A Kentucky-bred, Pauline’s Pearl was produced by Hot Dixie Chick, a Dixie Union half-sister to 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming. She has now won eight of 19 starts for earnings of $2,127,400.

The early transfer of racing in Kentucky this summer from Churchill Downs to Ellis Park temporarily prevented Bango from tying the record for most wins by a horse over the Louisville track, but couldn’t stop him from taking the $225,000 Kelly’s Landing S. for a second time.

Hounded much of the way by second choice Marsalis, Bango regained the lead from that rival in upper stretch and edged clear late to a half-length victory under Tyler Gaffalione. Miles Ahead finished a neck behind in third and was followed by Tejano Twist, Happy Jack, and Surveillance.

A homebred racing for Tamaroak Stable and trained by Greg Foley, Bango sped 6 1/2 furlongs over a fast track in 1:15.02 and returned $4.30 as the favorite.

In addition to his two wins in the Kelly’s Landing (the other was in 2021), the six-year-old Bango also owns victories in the 2021 and 2022 Aristides S., the 2022 Bet on Sunshine S., and 2023 St. Matthews S., all at Churchill. This renewal of the Kelly’s Landing was his second black-type score at Ellis following the 2021 Good Lord S.

An eight-time stakes winner overall, Bango has won 13 of 31 starts for earnings of $1,275,811. The Kentucky-bred is a son of Congrats and the Smart Strike mare Josaka.