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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Shadwell Stable homebred Zaajel dug in deep and proved too tough to topple as the 3/5 favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Zaajel was a step slow into stride as she broke from post 7 under Luis Saez and lingered near the rear while remaining outside and clear of any kickback.
Queen Arella went to the lead and posted opening fractions of :22.77 and :46.03 while Wholebodemeister and Coach Jer’s Joy stalked close behind.
Zaajel ranged up in the far turn to challenge for the lead and continued rolling forward as she straightened for home in sole command.
Dial to Win and Lady Traveler took valiant shots in the stretch, but Zaajel’s class prevailed.
The Todd Pletcher trainee dug in to take the 7-furlong fast dirt sprint by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:24.72.
“She was misbehaving in the gate and she missed the break a little,” Saez said. “After that, she just kept coming and everything went well, and she kept coming.”
Lady Traveler rallied from well off the pace to take second by a 1/2-length over Wholebodemeister, who was 3/4 of a length clear of Dial to Win.
Coach Jer’s Joy, Competitive Speed, Three Tipsy Chix, and Queen Arella completed the order of finish in the race restricted to 3-year-old fillies.
The Forward Gal is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Zaajel earned 10 points for the win, with Lady Traveler receiving 4 for second, Wholebodemeister 2 for third, and Dial to Win 1 for fourth.
Zaajel’s win backed up her impressive 7 1/4-length debut score over this course and distance last month with Saez aboard. The Street Sense filly has now earned $84,140.
“I was really pleased with the outcome,” Pletcher said. “I was pretty concerned at the start. She got a little antsy in the gate and missed the break, and she put in a long, sustained run. That’s hard to do, especially in her second start going from a maiden to a graded stake, but she’s trained like a quality filly and she overcame some adversity today, so we’re proud of her.”
Zaajel returned $3.20 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show. Lady Traveler brought back $5 to place and $3.80 to show, while Wholebodemeister paid $5.20 to show.
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