Big Weekend for Joseph Home and Away
Saddles Florida Derby Hero White Abarrio in Haskell, Miss You Ella in Miss Gracie
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. won’t be at Gulfstream Park Saturday to saddle Miss You Ella for the $75,000 Miss Gracie, but his absence shouldn’t be mistaken as a lack of confidence in the 3-year-old daughter of Declaration of War.
Joseph will be otherwise occupied at Monmouth Park preparing to saddle Florida Derby (G1) champion White Abarrio for a start in Saturday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) when Miss You Ella goes to post for the Miss Gracie, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Tapeta.
Wonder Stables, Madaket Stables LLC and Golconda Stable’s Miss You Ella is expected to be well respected by the bettors, looking to a troubled but gritty fourth-place finish behind stablemate Sister Lou Ann in the June 11 Martha Washington on turf.
“Down the back she went for a spot that was kind of tight and she got intimidated in the spot, so she had to check out of there and lose position at a very important stage of the race. Then she stayed on well the last sixteenth. You could argue that she would have won the race, but she didn’t,” said Joseph by phone from Saratoga, where he is scheduled to saddle Sister Lou Ann for Friday’s Lake George (G3).
Miss You Ella, who was beaten by only 1 1/2 lengths in the Martha Washington in her first start for Joseph, was victorious in her only previous start on Tapeta, graduating in her third career start Jan. 6 for trainer Chad Brown.
“It’s on the Tapeta, and she won on Tapeta. I can’t say she’s better on Tapeta than on turf, but it gives you confidence that she can handle the Tapeta,” said Joseph, who will also be represented in the Miss Gracie by All In Line Stables LLC’s Strategy Queen, who captured back-to-back races on the all-weather course last fall but is winless in four subsequent starts on turf and dirt.
Edgard Zayas is scheduled to ride Miss You Ella for the first time in the Miss Gracie, which attracted a field of nine fillies.
St. George Stable LLC’s Omixochitl will seek to rebound from a subpar showing in the Martha Washington. The Fausto Gutierrez-trained daughter of More Than Ready previously finished second on turf in the Honey Ryder and broke her maiden on Tapeta.
Willow Lane Stable Inc., Endeavor Farm and Off Chance Bloodstock’s Therearenorules, who finished a troubled sixth in the Martha Washington, enters the Miss Gracie off victory in a July 8 optional claiming allowance on Tapeta. Dennis Smith and Daniel Walters’ Empress Ellie, who finished a neck behind Therearenorules July 8, will also return in the Miss Gracie.
Trainer Gerald James and Hall Performance LLC’s Soul of and Angel, The Equine Spa LLC’s Winning at Ease, Nimet Arif Kurtel’s Margeaux Romance and BB Horses’ Nana Fanny round out the field.
Not long after the fillies cross the finish line in Gulfstream’s feature race, C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable LLC’s White Abarrio will clash with seven other 3-year-olds in the Haskell, including undefeated Jack Christopher.
The Chad Brown-trained Jack Christopher has won his four starts by a combined 25 ¼ lengths in very fast times, including a 10-length romp in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont last time out. The Haskell will be the son of Munnings first time around two turns.
“That’s the reason we’re taking the chance. Jack Christopher is obviously fast and has the fastest numbers for 3-year-olds, but around one turn,” Joseph said. “If there is a distance question, we’ll be there to pick up the pieces, but it’s his race to win or lose. White Abarrio is a good horse in his own right. If he shows up and runs his ‘A’ game, we think he’s as good as most horses.”
White Abarrio, who captured the Holy Bull (G3) and Curlin Florida Derby (G1), recently returned from a rough-trip 16th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) to finish second behind Tawny Port in the Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown.
Joseph nearly pulled off a huge Haskell upset in 2020 when Ny Traffic closed to within a nose of heavily favored Authentic.