HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Making just her second career start and first in stakes company, Mike Tarp homebred Go Maggie Go took the lead on the far turn and held off graded stakes-winning favorite Off the Tracks the length of the stretch to win Saturday’s $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
The 46th running of the 1 1/16-mile Oaks for 3-year-old fillies was the second of eight stakes, seven of them graded, on a blockbuster 14-race program anchored by the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) featuring a matchup between undefeated Triple Crown prospects Mohaymen and Nyquist.
An impressive maiden winner March 13 at Gulfstream, Go Maggie Go ($10) gave trainer Dale Romans his second straight Oaks victory, following Birdatthewire’s triumph last year. The winning time was 1:43.74 over a good, sealed main track.
“It’s just the way things have fallen. When the horses are doing good, we run,” Romans said. “You just have to know when they’re doing good. She was training so good, so why not take a shot?”
Breaking from post three under Luis Saez, also aboard in her debut, Go Maggie Go settled to the outside of pacesetter Paola Queen through a quarter-mile in 23.09 seconds and a half in 46.70, with Grade 2 winner Off the Tracks, the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven, in close pursuit.
Saez and Go Maggie Go surged to the lead midway around the turn as Off the Tracks revved up on the outside under Hall of Famer John Velazquez to launch their bid. Go Maggie Go held firm to the lead as they straightened for home after going a mile in 1:37.07 to win by 2 ½ lengths over Paola Queen, who surged up the rail for second.
Off the Tracks was a half-length back in third, 5 ½ lengths ahead of Grade 1 winner Gomo. Double Entendre, Mo’ Green and Hold On Momma completed the order of finish.
“I had a perfect trip,” Saez said. “She broke good and was right there. When we came to the half-mile pole and I asked her, I had a lot of horse. In the stretch I thought somebody might come and get me, but when I hit her she responded.”
Romans gave greater consideration to his horse over the competition despite the wide disparity in seasoning and stakes experience.
“She’s just quality, and when they’re doing as good as heer and they’re the quality she is, you can run in an a-other-than and win by 15 and say why didn’t I run in a stake? There was only seven horses in here and if you run third you’re worth a lot of money,” he said. “Anytime you have speed on this racetrack, speed is dangerous.”
Off the Tracks was making her second start of the Championship Meet following her victory in the Feb. 21 Margate Handicap, and first since being purchased privately and moved to trainer Todd Pletcher.
“I thought she ran OK. Johnny through she didn’t really handle the muddy surface that well,” Pletcher said. “She put in a pretty good move on the turn and then kind of flattened out a little bit.”
Second choice at 7-2, Gomo was running for the first time since her victory over a sloppy, sealed track in the Alcibiades (G1) Oct. 2 at Keeneland. She had an ankle chip removed following the race.
“I thought she ran dynamite off the layoff,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “To run fourth in the Gulfstream Oaks is sensational. The track was heavy so I thought she ran great.”
Source: Gulfstream Park