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Mike previews the 2023 Royal Delta Stakes (G3) from Gulfstream Park, then gives his top picks & long shots. The Shug McGaughey-trained Kathleen O. returns to her favorite track where she went undefeated in 3 starts at age 3 including winning the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Wingate Stables LLC’s Kathleen O. will seek to extend her undefeated record in Gulfstream Park stakes intact Saturday, when the 4-year-old daughter of Upstart returns in the $150,000 Royal Delta (G3).
The Royal Delta, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for older fillies and mares, will headline a 12-race program at Gulfstream Park.
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Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey saddled Kathleen O. for three straight stakes victories during the 2021-2022 Championship Meet in the Cash Run, Royal Delta (G2) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
“She ran really good here last year, so I have no problem with the mile and a sixteenth or coming back to Gulfstream,” McGaughey said.
Kathleen O. rallied from far back to break her maiden in an Aqueduct sprint before kicking off here 3-year-old season with a dominating 8 ½-length triumph in the mile Cash Run at Gulfstream Park Jan. 1. The Kentucky-bred filly made another impressive rally to win the mile Davona Dale going away by two lengths. Kathleen O. established herself as a strong candidate for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) when she stretched out successfully around two turns to capture the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks by 2 ¾ lengths.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out nearly as well for Kathleen O. at Churchill Downs, where she dropped back to 12th in the early running of the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks before rallying to finish fifth, four lengths behind victorious Secret Oath.
“We got a little farther back than I wanted and we got in a little trouble in the lane and we only got beat [four] lengths for all of it, and most of that was the winner,” McGaughey said. “Obviously, things have to go right in a race like that. It was kind of disappointing. I’m still disappointed over it.”
Kathleen O. went to the sidelines following the Oaks and returned at Aqueduct Nov. 25 to finish a fast-closing second in the 1 1/8-mile Comely (G3), beaten by just a half length by Sixtythreecaliber.
“That horse just opened up on her. I thought we would catch her, but we didn’t. I thought it was fine,” McGaughey said.
McGaughey reported that Kathleen O. couldn’t be fitter for her 2023 campaign.
“This is a new year. We have a fresh horse, which is what I wanted. We’ve got one race into her back in November,” the Hall of Famer said. “We’ve got the whole year in front of us.”
Javier Castellano, the only jockey Kathleen O. has had during her six-race career, has the return mount for the Royal Delta.
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Robert and Lawana Lowe’s Classy Edition, who finished second behind Kathleen O. in the Davona Dale; and Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Steven Schoenfeld’s Midnight Stroll, a graded-stakes winner during her 3-year-old campaign, appear to be Kathleen O’s most dangerous challengers.
Classy Edition, who is trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, came off a nine-month layoff to score an impressive 5 ¼-length romp in a mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Jan. 11. The New York-bred daughter of Classic Empire launched her career with three runaway victories over state-breds before tasting defeat for the first time in the Davona Dale.
Irad Ortiz Jr., who was aboard Classy Edition’s first four starts, is scheduled for a return to the saddle.
John Terranova-trained Midnight Stroll captured the 1 1/16-mile Delaware Oaks (G3) before finishing third in the Charles Town Oaks (G3) and Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland during her sophomore season.
Edgard Zayas has the call for the daughter of Not This Time’s seasonal debut.
Imaginary Stables’ Don’t Get Khozy, Beth Ford and David Meah’s Jungle Juice, Gerald James and Hall Performance LLC’s Soul of an Angel, and JPG 2 LLC, Mr. Pug LLC, and Team Equistaff LLC’s Tap Dance Fever round out the field.
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