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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Shadwell Stable’s flashy homebred Zaajel steps up to the big leagues in Saturday’s $100,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The Forward Gal is a 7-furlong dirt sprint restricted to 3-year-old fillies. This year’s edition is the ninth event on a 12-race card that includes the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and has a local post time of 3:46 PM.
The Martha Washington is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. The winner will earn 10 points, with second receiving 4, third 2, and fourth 1.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Forward Gal:
1. Wholebodemeister 10/1 – She gives stakes action a third try after failing to finish on the board in both August’s Debutante at Ellis Park (sixth) and last month’s Sandpiper (seventh). While her speed figures don’t stand up next to the favorites, sharp handicappers will take note that rail horses in dirt sprints are winning at a 19% clip, highest of any post. Potential upset?
2. Three Tipsy Chix 5/1 – She returns from a light 2-month break; when last seen, she was a 2-length winner against Churchill Downs maiden special weight company in her third start. Trainer Ian Wilkes hits at 15% with a positive ROI when returning horses from similar breaks and will once again leg up Julien Leparoux, the only jockey this filly’s ever known on race day.
3. Competitive Speed 8/1 – She enters hot on a 3-race win streak that includes a 3-length score in the local Glitter Woman Stakes on January 2. The way in which she finished both that and her maiden-breaking effort (each held at 6 1/2 furlongs) hints that a slightly longer distance won’t be a problem and she’s steadily improved her Beyer Speed Figures in all 4 starts.
“She’s always doing better every day, and that’s happened from the very first day that she came to the barn,” her trainer Javier Gonzalez said. “When she came to us and started training and working and getting condition, she was doing better. When we put her in company, she did better. Whatever we ask her to do, she did better. She’s passed every test.”
4. Queen Arella 20/1 – She returns to the races for the first time since September, when she was last of six against fellow New York-breds in the Seeking the Ante Stakes at Saratoga. Her Schuylerville Stakes (G3) effort against open company 1 start earlier was no better, but perhaps returning to the track where she had a 4-length maiden-breaking debut will help.
5. Dial to Win 20/1 – She broke her maiden at third asking over the Gulfstream Park West main track but was a well-beaten fifth in the Glitter Woman last time out. Aggressive jockey Paco Lopez keeps the mount for the third straight time, but the manner in which she stalked and faded steadily in the stretch of the slightly shorter Glitter Woman is cause for concern.
6. Lady Traveler 4/1 – She broke her maiden going 6 furlongs at Churchill Downs and finished second in the 1 1/16-mile Rags to Riches Stakes, but she was eighth in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at the same distance. Off since that late November effort, she should enjoy cutting back in distance and trainer Dale Romans wins 19% after similar breaks.
7. Zaajel 7/5 – She romped with ultra-impressive ease on debut, defeating her rivals over this course and distance by 7 1/4 lengths and earning a 75 Beyer Speed Figure that towers over nearly every other runner entered here. Luis Saez, one of trainer Todd Pletcher’s top jockeys, rides back; the two have won 22% of their shared mounts in the past 13 months.
“She was very impressive in her debut and she’s trained great since then,” Pletcher said. “Ideally, I’d kind of like to run her in an allowance race, but we don’t really have an option at the moment. Considering how well she ran at the distance and over the surface here, we’ll give it a try. The 7 furlongs was no problem in her debut.”
8. Coach Jer’s Joy 9/2 – Like the rival to her inside, she also steps up to the stakes ranks off of a nice maiden-breaking debut, though hers came in the Gulfstream Park West slop and against lesser-quality rivals. Still, she showed an ability to stalk and pounce that few juveniles possess right away, and Irad Ortiz Jr. – the nation’s leading jockey in 2020 – picks up the mount.
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