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G2 Winner Attempts to ‘Embrace’ Distance in Sugar Swirl

Dec 12, 2018
Stormy Embrace Cuts Back to Six Furlongs for $100,000 Sprint
G2 Winner Tequilita Seeks Return to Form in $100,000 Rampart (G3)

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Matalona Thoroughbreds’ Florida homebred Stormy Embrace, whose multiple stakes wins include the Breeders’ Cup-qualifying Princess Rooney (G2) this summer, goes after her first win since then in Saturday’s $100,000 Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

The 37th running of the six-furlong Sugar Swirl and 40th renewal of the $100,000 Rampart (G3) at one mile, both for fillies and mares 3 and up, are among five graded-stakes worth $600,000 in purses on an 11-race program that begins with a noon first post.

Joining them are the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on grass that attracted a field of 16 including 13 graded-stakes winners; $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles featuring the return of Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible to graded-stakes competition; and $100,000 My Charmer (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and up going one mile on the grass.

Trained by Kathleen O’Connell, Stormy Embrace drew Post 4 and is the 123-pound topweight with jockey Tyler Gaffalione aboard in a field of eight. The 4-year-old filly never got going when 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 3 last time out.

“She came out of the Breeders’ Cup really good,” O’Connell said. “It was just a rough trip. She was wide and there were a lot of horses. With that many horses, you had to have the trip.”

Her three most recent wins, including the June 30 Princess Rooney and May 19 Musical Romance Stakes at Gulfstream, have come at seven furlongs, but Stormy Embrace will cutting back in the Sugar Swirl. She has two wins, a second and a third from six career tries at six furlongs.

“She’s had a great year. Six furlongs isn’t really her deal, and you hate to take a horse that’s doing great out of her element,” O’Connell said. “She’s training great and she loves Gulfstream. At the end of the day, we try to do what’s best for the horse.”

Stonestreet Stables Dream Pauline, a homebred daughter of Tapit out of the Wild Rush mare Dream Rush, will make her graded-stakes debut in the Sugar Swirl. The 3-year-old filly has raced only three times, winning her debut last December at Aqueduct.

She wasn’t seen again until beating older horses in an entry-level allowance Aug. 2 at Saratoga, then ran third following a tough trip in the Dream Supreme Stakes Nov. 4 after being sent to Kentucky with designs on the Breeders’ Cup. All three of her starts have come at six furlongs.

“She won the a-other-than at Saratoga and then she didn’t get in the Breeders’ Cup. We were hoping to get in and then she ran the next day against older fillies. She just had a rough trip,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “She got checked pretty hard a couple times down the backside. She’s a nice filly, better than that. We’re looking forward to the race. She’s very talented and very well-bred.”

William Rainbow’s homebred Surprise Wedding won a seven-furlong optional claimer Sept. 30 at Gulfstream and hasn’t raced since finishing 10th in a similar spot on the Gulfstream Park West turf Oct. 24. The High Cotton filly won the City of Ocala Florida Sire Stakes to cap her 2017 campaign.

“She just doesn’t like the grass that much and for some reason she doesn’t do any good across town. I don’t know why. She likes Gulfstream, so we’re expecting her to run good,” trainer David Fawkes said. “She’s doing really, really good. We’re looking forward to the race. I think seven-eighths is her best distance but we’ll give her a shot and see how it goes.”

Also entered are multiple stakes winners Bronx Beauty and Proper Discretion, Pacific Gale, Awestruck and Money Or Love.

G2 Winner Tequilita Seeks Return to Form in $100,000 Rampart (G3)

Dorothy Alexander Matz’s Tequilita, winless in seven starts this year, looks to regain her graded-stakes winning form at the site of her first such victory in the $100,000 Rampart.

Trained by Michael Matz for his wife, who also bred the daughter of 2012 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Union Rags, Tequilita won the Forward Gal (G2) and was second in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) in 2017, prior to finishing seventh in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and third in the Test (G1) before rebounding with a victory in the Charles Town Oaks (G3).

This year, Tequilita was third in the one-mile Ruffian (G2) in May and most recently second in the seven-furlong Pumpkin Pie Stakes Oct. 28, both at Belmont Park. She will break from Post 5 in a field of seven with two-time Championship Meet-leading rider Luis Saez up at co-topweight of 119 pounds.

Beau Ravine’s Tapa Tapa Tapa also has graded-stakes experience, but is unraced since running sixth in the Doubledogdare (G3) April 20 at Keeneland. The Timothy Hamm trainee won the one-mile, 40-yard Suncoast Stakes last February at Tampa Bay Downs, and will have the services of Hall of Famer Javier Castellano from Post 3.

Looking for her first win since coming to the U.S. from France is D P Racing’s Snirvana, who raced three times this summer and fall at Gulfstream with one second and was third in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer at Gulfstream Park West Oct. 19 last time out. The Rampart will be her first race on dirt.

“She’s a nice filly. She ran a couple of OK races on the turf but I think she works much better on the dirt so I think we are going to take a shot. I was supposed to run her on the dirt before but the race did not go so we have to go straight into the stake,” trainer Patrick Biancone said. “She had a little shoe issue when she arrived where she had to have some surgery but we took our time with her and she’s coming into good form at the right time. She’s a one-paced horse and most of the time they go better on the dirt than the turf.”

Apprentice Romero Ramsey Maragh has the call from Post 6.

Tweeting, second in the Shine Again Stakes Sept. 29 at Laurel Park in her first start for trainer Jorge Navarro; stablemate Breaking Bread, a second-level optional claiming winner Oct. 18 at Laurel; Owner Appreciation Distaff Stakes winner Inspeightofyou and Electric Forest complete the field.

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