OZONE PARK, NY – Prohibitive favorite Miss Sky Warrior lived up to her advance billing and made light work of the 122nd edition of the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle, notching her third straight Grade 2 score, fifth consecutive stakes win, and sixth victory in a row in gate-to-wire fashion while being geared down in the lane at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday.
With regular rider Paco Lopez in the irons, Arlene London’s homebred daughter of First Samurai crossed the wire 13 lengths in front of the other eight sophomore fillies in the field and covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.71 on a fast track.
In the process, she solidified her status as a top contender for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 5 while adding another 100 qualifying points to the 60 she had tacked onto the leaderboard prior to the Gazelle.
“This is the sharpest I’ve ever seen her going into a race; it had me a little nervous, actually,” said trainer Kelly Breen, who won his first Gazelle. “When she was walking over here, she was striking at the groom, and she was trying to buck a little bit in the post parade, so it was a good energy that she had. The rest of the race to me, you just say, ‘Wow.’ It was really a powerful performance. I try not to get in Paco’s head too much. I told him, ‘If somebody else goes, you can let her go.’ She’s rated kindly before and she broke super sharp. He said, ‘I had to go.’ She relaxed for him and really put up a powerful performance.”
Miss Sky Warrior broke alertly and went right to the front as she ripped off splits of 23.63, 47.37, 1:11.78, and 1:37.62. Lockdown, trained by Bill Mott, applied a little pressure as they rounded the far turn, but Miss Sky Warrior dispensed with that rival and dashed out to a 10 1/2-length lead into the stretch, then kicked clear all the way home while seeming as though she could have easily finished up by an even greater margin.
“I think I had the best filly in the race today,” said Lopez, who also won his first Gazelle. “She broke very well. She’s a very nice filly. It’s up to the owner and the trainer, (but) I hope we can go to the Kentucky Oaks. I was very impressed today.”
Lockdown finished second for owner/breeder Juddmonte Farms, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Full House. The remaining order of finish was Stay Found, North End, Tiz Rae Anna, Rimanisempreforte, Yorkiepoo Princess, and Aspen Hilltop.
Lockdown, who won the Busanda Stakes here in her last race on January 15 but had been idle since, tried her best, but had to settle for the place and earned 40 more Oaks points.
“We were second-best today chasing a roadrunner,” said jockey Kendrick Carmouche. “She did everything she had to do to try and win the race. We got second, so I’m happy for the owner and Mr. Billy [Mott]. She ran her race. She ran good, I’m very proud of her. You can’t ask for too much more.”
Miss Sky Warrior, who won the Grade 2 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park last out, remains undefeated at the Big A, where she has also captured the Grade 2 Demoiselle and the Grade 3 Tempted. The $180,000 winning share of the purse improved her lifetime earnings to $641,590.
“It looks like we’re on to the Oaks,” said a delighted Breen.
Miss Sky Warrior returned $5.30, $3.30, and $2.60. Lockdown brought back $5.90 and $4, while Full House paid $5.30 to show.