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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Fresh off a return to winning form in the July 10 Hallandale Beach Handicap, John Minchello’s Competitive Speed will be looking to pick up the pace in Saturday’s $75,000 Azalea at Gulfstream Park.
The Azalea, a 7-furlong stakes for 3-year-old fillies carded as race 10, will headline an 11-race program that will also feature a $70,000 maiden special weight event in Race 8, in which Minchello will be represented by first-time starter Fast N Ready, who has been working sharply for his debut in the well-stocked 7-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds.
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Competitive Speed’s success in the 7-furlong Hallandale Beach was the daughter of Competitive Edge’s first victory in her 3 races since finishing off the board following a troubled start in the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.
“Each race since coming back from the Oaks, she has gotten better and better,” trainer Javier Gonzalez said. “I think she will still be better Saturday.”
Competitive Speed, who had earned her way into the Oaks field with third-place finishes in the Davona Dale (G2) and the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet, broke slowly from her rail post position in the June 2 Game Face, dropping back early before rallying to finish second.
Assigned the rail post position again for the Hallandale Beach, the Kentucky-bred filly once again got away from the gate a step slowly before closing from sixth and last on the far turn to score by a length.
The multiple stakes winner is scheduled to break from the far-outside 6 post position for the Azalea.
“She has a better post position this time. I think she’s going to be a little bit closer to the pace in this race,” Gonzalez said. “She’s not going to have dirt in her face. She’s going to be happier running this time.”
Leonel Reyes has the return mount aboard Competitive Speed.
Earlier on the program, Gonzalez is slated to saddle Fast N Ready, a son of Fast Anna and the Brazilian-bred mare Doppia Vendetta, for his debut in a full field of 12 juveniles.
“The horse is ready to run seven furlongs. What I’m not sure about is if he’s a dirt horse or turf horse,” Gonzalez said. “I think he’s a turf horse, but we’re going to try dirt to see what happens.”
Competitive Speed, who has left little doubt that she is an outstanding main track performer, will be challenged by several familiar faces in the Azalea, including the fillies who finished second through fifth in the Hallandale Beach.
Competitive Speed Back In Winner’s Circle In Hallandale Beach
Shea D Boy’s Stable’s Shea D Summer will seek to rebound from a fourth-place finish as the 6/5 favorite in the Hallandale Beach, in which she broke in the air and recovered to take the lead in deep stretch before tiring late. In her previous start, the Carlos David-trained daughter of Summer Front produced a front-running victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Game Face, finishing 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Competitive Speed.
Emisael Jaramillo has the call aboard the Florida-bred filly.
Legacy Racing LLC’s Coach Jer’s Jay, will seek to improve on her second-place finish in the Hallandale Beach, in which she made a strong bid for victory with a solid stretch run. Karl Glassman and Cathi Glassman’s Restofthestory, who finished third in the Hallandale Beach after being shut off at the start and rushing up to set a pressured pace, figures to get a lot of attention from bettors Saturday.
J.C. Diaz Jr. has the return mount aboard Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Coach Jer’s Joy, while Edgard Zayas will ride Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained Restofthestory back in the Azalea.
Trainer Daniel Pita’s Princess Secret, who finished fifth in the Hallandale Beach, and Andrew Warren’s Kamar Taj, the Terri Pompay-trained filly who has won both of her career starts, round out the field.
Cristian Torres has the call on Princess Secret, while Miguel Vasquez is slated to ride Kamar Taj for the first time Saturday.
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