Transient Seeking Graded Score in $150,000 The Very One (G3)
Defending Champion Virginia Joy Tops Chad Brown-Trained Trio
Among Nine Stakes, Eight Graded, Worth $1.85 Million Saturday
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – If her last two races are any indication, e Five Thoroughbreds’ Transient could be sitting on the first graded-stakes victory of her career in Saturday’s $150,000 The Very One (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 3/8-mile The Very One for fillies and mares 4 and up on the grass is the second of nine stakes, eight graded, worth $1.85 million in purses on a blockbuster 14-race card anchored by the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) for 3-year-olds on the road to the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1).
Post time is 11 a.m. EST. The 34th running of The Very One goes off as Race 6 with a post time of 1:27 p.m. EST.
Trained by Championship Meet leader Saffie Joseph Jr., Transient has been narrowly beaten in each of her last two starts, both in graded-stakes. She ran third by 1 ½ lengths after setting the pace in the 1 ¼-mile Maple Leaf (G3) over Woodbine’s all-weather surface last fall, then was beaten a neck when second in the 1 ½-mile La Prevoyante (G3) Jan. 28 at Gulfstream in her 5-year-old debut.
“She’s a filly that since we’ve had her has run well. She tries hard and likes these longer distances,” Joseph said. “She’s going to need to improve again, but we feel like she could.”
Bred in England, Transient joined Joseph’s string at Saratoga last summer and finished second in a 1 3/16-mile allowance before registering a 1 ¾-length triumph in a similar spot three weeks later at Aqueduct in her only prior try at the unique The Very One distance.
Transient was pressed on the lead and gave way late in the Maple Leaf, just her third time in 11 starts not on turf. She found some trouble and was rank in the early stages of the La Prevoyante but fought well through the lane despite Tyler Gaffalione losing his whip to be second.
“She’s a horse where the key with her is to get her to relax. She can get very keyed up early. She’s very hard to ride because you have to have good hands,” Joseph said. “The last time, Tyler wasn’t able to get covered and she was kind of keen the whole way.
“He did a good job of keeping her composed and not letting her totally run off,” he added. “In that regard, if she can relax better she has a decent chance. Going a mile and a half, mile and three-eighths, you need to relax. For her to have been that keen and still run well, it speaks a lot of her ability.”
Gaffalione will ride Transient back from Post 6 in a field of 10. Transient has been third or better in eight of 11 starts, including five of eight on the grass.
“She’s a very consistent filly,” Joseph said. “The longer the distance the better for her.”
Among those standing in Transient’s way are the Chad Brown-trained trio of Virginia Joy, Higher Truth and Mylady. Peter Brant’s Virginia Joy was a Group 3 winner in her native Germany before coming to the U.S., earning her first domestic victory with a popular one-length decision in last winter’s The Very One. She went on to win the Sheepshead Bay (G2) and Flower Bowl (G2) before ending 2022 running eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), her most recent start.
Team Hanley, Jeff Drown and Michael Ryan’s Higher Truth is entered to make just her second start since October 2021 and first since winning a 1 3/8-mile optional claiming allowance last July on the Belmont Park turf. Two years ago she was second in the Saratoga Oaks Invitational (G3) and Jockey Club Oaks Invitational and third in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) and Sands Point (G2), each loss coming by less than a length.
Mrs. Michaela Faust’s Mylady was a German Group 3 winner who ran third by less than a length in the German Oaks (G1) last year before coming to the U.S. In her only domestic start, she was placed fifth following a troubled trip in the 1 ¼-mile E.P. Taylor (G1) in October at Woodbine.
Brown also won Gulfstream’s The Very One with Orlorda in 2016.
Also with a pair of entrants, Lady Rockstar and Ensemble, is trainer Brendan Walsh. Steven Parkin’s Lady Rockstar has already raced twice during the Championship Meet, beaten a length when second in the one-mile Suwannee River (G3) Dec. 31 and exiting a third by 4 ¼ lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G3) Jan. 28.
“She’s doing good,” Walsh said. “The extra distance is probably what she needs. I think we were always kind of toying with running her a little bit short in her other couple races. But, she did give a good account of herself each time and she seems like she’s coming into this in good form. It should be a better spot for her.”
British-bred Lady Rockstar came to the U.S. last spring and won each of her first two domestic starts, respectively going 1 1/8 and 1 ¼ miles. Fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Matchmaker (G3) in her American stakes debut, she didn’t race again for five months before coming back in the Suwannee River.
“It seems like he’s sharpened up with some experience here in the states. It’s always good to be able to do that and to know that she likes the surface [at Gulfstream] and she can stretch out, as well,” Walsh said. “The last race was probably a little bit short of her best, distance-wise, but we were happy with her run and it sets her up nicely for this spot.”
Joel Rosario gets the assignment on Lady Rockstar from Post 3.
Clipper Logistics’ Ensemble exits a 10 ½-length romp in a 1 ½-mile optional claiming allowance Feb. 12 that was moved off the grass to Gulfstream’s Tapeta course. The 5-year-old Irish-bred mare is winless with three seconds and a third in nine career tries on turf.
“I kind of put ensemble in there if the race were to come off the grass and go to the [Tapeta],” Walsh said. “The last time she ran real big, but we’ll see how it shakes out and go from there.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano is named on Ensemble from Post 8.
Like Joseph, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher is looking for a more relaxed run from Michael Tabor’s Beside Herself, exiting a fourth in the La Prevoyante. The 4-year-old daughter of champion Uncle Mo ran fourth as the favorite in the 1 ½-mile Via Borghese Dec. 17 at Gulfstream, a race moved from the grass to the Tapeta, and is seeking her first stakes victory, having run third in the 1 1/8-mile Regret (G3) last June.
“I think what we’ve got to do is try to get her to settle a little more, and we’ve kind of found ourself in a little faster pace scenarios than we’d like. The synthetic race is kind of hard to gauge, but that’s our key focus is to try to get her to relax,” Pletcher said. “I think we just have to ride her a little bit differently. If she finds herself on the lead that’s fine, but if not we just need her to get into a comfortable rhythm behind a sensible pace.”
Luis Saez, up in each of the last two starts, has the return call from Post 2.
Completing the field are Broadway Boogie, a six-length optional claiming allowance winner going 1 ½ miles Jan. 5 at Gulfstream; Flying Fortress, third in the Via Borghese for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey; and Libretto.