Grand Sonata, Opalina Take Gulfstream Turf Stakes - petsitterbank

Grand Sonata, Opalina Take Gulfstream Turf Stakes

Whisper Hill Farm’s homebred Great Sonata found running room when he needed it, surging through an opening in deep stretch to run down stablemate Royal Spirit and win the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes (G3T) by a neck Feb. 5 at Gulfstream Park.

Winner of the one-mile Dania Beach Stakes Jan. 1 at Gulfstream in his previous start, Grand Sonata ($13.60) completed the distance in 1:41.53 over a firm course after being blocked until midstretch. Hall of Fame Todd Pletcher trains the 1-2 finishers.

“I thought he was a little bit overlooked today,” Pletcher said of the winner, who went off at odds of almost 6-1. “All his turf races have been good. He had a really tough trip at Aqueduct and didn’t get the win but he’s a really nice colt, very professional.”

Grand Sonata is a son of Medaglia d’Oro out of the AP Indy pond AP Sonata a half-sister to stakes winners Wilburn , Beethoven and The Appassionata . Grand Sonata is her dam’s only living foal after her first, an unnamed full sister to Grand Sonata, died in 2019 at age 2.

Coinage , winner of the With Anticipation (G3T) last summer in his turf debut, was sent to the front by jockey Luis Saez and ran a quarter-mile in :24.03 and a half in :48.22 pressed by Royal Spirit on his right hip. Gaffalione had Grand Sonata settled in third along the rail, with 40-1 long shot Red Knobs on his outside.

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“We were concerned there wasn’t much pace on paper and Coinage can be tough when he gets loose, so we wanted to be aware of that. The fractions were pretty modest. I thought both horses were in good spots and both finished up well ,” Pletcher said. “Actually I thought Royal Spirit might have it for a second, but this horse has a big turn of foot and Tyler knows that. Once he got him in the clear they finished in a rush.”

Royal Spirit moved up to even terms with Coinage exiting the far turn with Gaffalione still looking for an available path. A couple of openings closed quickly in the stretch before Grand Sonata was able to angle around Royal Spirit and came with a dramatic late burst to get the edge.

“I had a ton of horse. I had to be patient to wait for a spot. A little crack opened and he hesitated just a little bit, but I had so much horse, he wound up getting through and finished the job nicely,” Gaffalione said.

Coinage stayed on for third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Royal Spirit, followed by Eldon’s Prince , Red Danger , Speaking Scout , Father Glado and Red Knobs.

Video: Kitten’s Joy S. (G3T)

Opalina Takes Sweetest Chant
Teneri Farm and J Stables’ Opalina came with a steady run around the far turn and powered through the stretch to reel in 29-1 longshot leader Myfavoritedaughter and win Saturday’s $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes (G3T).

Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

Opalina captures the Sweetest Chant Stakes

Opalina ($10.60) hit the wire in 1:41.56 for the 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf course to give jockey Luis Saez his third graded stakes win on the card, following My Prankster in the Claiborne Farm Swale (G3) and Girl With a Dream in the Forward Gal (G3), both on the main track.

The filly is the first black-type stakes winner for Optimizer who stands at Calumet Farm for an advertised fee of $2,500.

“When she took the lead in the stretch she kind of waited for the other ones, but when she got on the left (lead) she gave me another gear,” Saez said. “Last time, she needed a race and she didn’t want to be too close. Today, we wanted to race a little bit from behind and make one move with her. Everything turned out like we were expecting.”

Myfavoritedaughter, sent off at the longest odds in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies, sped through fractions of :23.16 and :46.88 to lead the group by open lengths with Ocean Safari , runner-up in the one-mile Ginger Brew Stakes Jan. 1 at Gulfstream, a distant second. Saez, meanwhile, had Opalina—third as the favorite in the Ginger Brew—settled in fourth.

“She ran great, and that’s the way she runs her best, coming off the pace a little bit,” winning trainer Roderick Rodriguez said. “The last time she was anxious in the receiving barn, but today she was perfect. She was relaxed. She broke alertly, but she settled back and just made one big run, and that’s the way I want her to run.”

Saez gave Opalina her cue leaving the backstretch, swinging out three wide to launch their bid. They quickly passed Ocean Safari and straightened for home with their sights set on Myfavoritedaughter, who dug in determinedly but could not hold off the closers.

Opalina earned her first career stakes victory by three-quarters of a length over late-running Ambitious who made just her third career start and first in a stakes. Miss You Ella came on for third, another 1 1/4 lengths back. Myfavoritedaughter, Battle Charge Ocean Safari, Roughly a Diamond , Hal’s Dream and Nostalgic —narrowly favored over Opalina and Ocean Safari—completed the order of finish.

“I felt good, because I know Luis can get the horse going,” Rodriguez said. “She was coming on really nice. I felt really confident at the top of the stretch.”

Opalina has earnings of $135,770 from a 2-2-1 record from six starts. She was bred in Florida by Teneri Farms and Bernardo Alvarez Calderon and is the fourth of four foals out of the Kitten’s Joy pond Go Kitten Go . Her dam has produced three winners from as many starters, including stakes-placed Red Hornets (English Channel ).

Video: Sweetest Chant S. (G3T)


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