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Karak Returns to Face Miss Auramet in 75k Captiva Island

Mar 4, 2021
Turf Sprint Among Three Stakes Worth $225,000 Saturday, March 6

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – They share the distinction of being stakes winners, but the road leading to Saturday’s $75,000 Captiva Island at Gulfstream Park couldn’t have been more different for Karak and Miss Auramet.

Breeze Easy’s 4-year-old Karak, who won stakes at 2 and 3 on different surfaces, has raced a total of seven times, never at Gulfstream and nowhere in 295 days. David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s Miss Auramet, 5, will be making her 20th career start, 12th over the local course and third of 2021, just 10 days after becoming a stakes winner for the first time.

The seventh running of the Captiva Island for fillies and mares 4 and up sprinting five furlongs on the grass is among three stakes worth $225,000 on a 12-race program that begins with a 12:10 p.m. first post.

Karak became the first winner for her sire, Karakontie, with a debut triumph in May 2019 at Belmont Park. Later that summer, she became the stallion’s first stakes winner in the five-furlong Tyro on the Monmouth Park turf. In between, the $365,000 2-year-old in training purchase was sent overseas where she ran 15th in the Windsor Castle, contested in a bog at Royal Ascot.

“She really doesn’t care for it soft at all. She likes to hear her feet rattle underneath her,” trainer Wesley Ward said. “We knew we were going to get that down here this winter, so we’re ready.”

Karak raced just twice last year, winning the 6 ½-furlong Cincinnati Trophy over Turfway Park’s all-weather track off a three-month layoff. She ran third as the favorite in an open 5 ½-furlong allowance May 16 at Churchill Downs, her most recent start.

“We just gave her some time off to kind of give her a freshening,” Ward said. “Then we took some time getting her back because this is the first start back of the season and we hope to have a good spring, summer and fall campaign with her being well-rested now.”

Karak shows eight timed breezes in 2021 for her return, two on the dirt at Gulfstream Park West and the others on the grass at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. The last two have been her sharpest, five-furlong moves in 59.75 seconds Feb. 19 and 1:00.60 Feb. 26.

“She’d kind of been a little bit slow in coming around. Every work gets a little better and a little better, her last one being the best,” Ward said. “So, she’s certainly fit enough now with the works that she’s got into her. She’s a multiple stakes winner and we’re hoping that with this long break and having a good, fresh mind and [being] sound that she’s going to jump up and fire.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. gets the riding assignment from Post 5 in a field of eight.

Miss Auramet has been a model of consistency throughout her career, with eight wins, five seconds, two thirds and nearly $350,000 in purse earnings from 19 starts. Seven of those wins have come at five furlongs, and she is 3-3-2 in 11 tries over the Gulfstream surface for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.

The chestnut Uncaptured mare raced nine times in 2020 with two three-race win streaks, opening 2021 with a troubled 10th-place finish in the Jan. 1 Abundantia. Miss Auramet ran second behind Lady’s Island in the Feb. 6 Ladies Turf Sprint, which was rained onto a sloppy main track. Both races came at Gulfstream.

Miss Auramet was back on the turf for the Lightning City Feb. 24 at Tampa Bay Downs, rationing her considerable speed to spring a mild half-length upset at odds of 8-1.

“The race at Tampa she laid third, stalked the two horses in front and overtook them when she was supposed to,” Plesa said. “It doesn’t matter. If she finds herself on the lead, that’s fine. She does have some speed – no ifs, ands or buts – but she does not have to be on the lead for her best race.”

Miss Auramet did wheel back in 14 days to capture an open 5 ½-furlong allowance last September that was rained off Laurel Park’s world-class turf course. Paco Lopez, aboard for three of her wins, rides back from Post 6 at topweight of 122 pounds.

“She’s just a hard-knocking horse. It looks like they’re calling for rain on Saturday and that won’t hurt her one way or the other. She runs equally as well on the dirt as she does on the turf,” Plesa said.

“I’m running her back in 10 days for two reasons. The main reason is that she came out of her last race fine, no ill effects from the race,” he added. “The second thing is, there aren’t a lot of spots for her down here. The next book is out and there’s no race for her in there. There’s no reason not to run her from a physical standpoint, so it seems like the thing to do.”

Two trainers with previous wins in the Captiva Island are represented this year. Eddie Kenneally captured last year’s edition with Girls Know Best and returns with Nightlife, a 5-year-old Into Mischief mare he co-owns with Triton Stable and Brian Chenvert. Nightlife enters the race having run fourth, beaten two lengths by Queen of Shades, in a five-furlong optional claiming allowance on the Gulfstream turf Jan. 10.

Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ Queen of Shades steps out of the same race looking to give trainer Kelly Breen his second Captiva Island win following Pretty Perfection in 2017. Also unraced since Jan. 10, the 4-year-old Midshipman filly has tried stakes company once before, running second in the 1 1/16-mile Anne Arundel County last fall at Laurel Park.

Completing the field are stakes winner A Bit of Both, most recently fourth in the Ladies Turf Sprint; stakes-placed Compensate; Choose Joy, a Feb. 10 winner at Gulfstream in just his second try on turf; and Tracy Ann’s Legacy, third in the Abundantia.

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