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Dreaming of Snow won the 2023 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, a prep race for the 2023 Kentucky Oaks (G1). After posting a 38/1 upset over champion filly Wonder Wheel and graded stakes winner Julia Shining, is the Gerald Bennett trainee now a major threat moving forward? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
In the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the race preceding the Sam F. Davis, co-owner and trainer Gerald Bennett’s Florida-bred Dreaming of Snow pulled a shocker, withstanding the determined efforts of 2022 Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Wonder Wheel to post a neck victory.
Samy Camacho rode Dreaming of Snow, who paid $78 to win after racing the mile-and-40-yard distance in a good time of 1:40.18 in a light rain. That was one of three victories today for Camacho, the track’s leading rider. Julia Shining, trained by Pletcher, finished third, another length-and-a-quarter back.
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Jockey Daniel Centeno, aboard fourth-place finisher Opus Forty Two, claimed foul against Dreaming of Snow for interference in the first turn, but the claim was disallowed by the stewards. Dreaming of Snow improved to 3-for-5 lifetime, with first-place money of $110,000 boosting her earnings to $170,850.
“I beat Wonder Wheel – WOW!” Camacho exclaimed after the result was made official. “I know this filly well and when I got on her in the morning for the first time, I told (Bennett) I have to stay on her. She’s pretty nice, but I never thought she would run two turns like this. She came back again when Wonder Wheel came to her.”
Considering Dreaming of Snow was making her first start around two turns, it was a supreme performance and affirmation of her ability after a disappointing fourth-place finish in last month’s Gasparilla Stakes.
“She’s been training really well and getting better and better,” said Bennett, who owns Dreaming of Snow under his Winning Stables banner with Team Equistaff. “She went a little backwards during the recent cold weather, but she blew out like a monster (Feb. 4, 4 furlongs in 46 seconds flat) and galloped out quick.
“You had to be on the rail today and I told Samy to put her on the lead, and she kept going. She likes this track, so you can’t win it if you’re not in it.”
On Wonder Wheel’s determined rally, Bennett relayed that “I said ‘Put your hands under her (Dreaming of Snow), Dear Lord, and carry her on home.’ ”
Mark Casse, who trains Wonder Wheel for owner D. J. Stable, and jockey Tyler Gaffalione attempted to put her second defeat in six races in perspective.
“I thought she ran very well,” Casse said. “I’m very proud of her. She got a little tired, but she ran good and this sets her up great (for the future).”
“She was traveling great coming off the layoff (since her NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies victory on Nov. 4 at Keeneland),” Gaffalione said. “That was my only concern. I tried to wait on her as long as possible, but she just got tired today.
“Today wasn’t the end goal. We’ve got bigger things ahead.”
The Suncoast is a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points race, with Dreaming of Snow earning 20 points toward qualifying for the May 5 event.
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