Mike Welsch | Feb 04, 2021
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Brendan Walsh will try to continue the success he’s had in the filly and mare turf division this winter at Gulfstream Park when sending out La Signare as the likely favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Suwannee River Stakes. The Grade 3 Suwannee River is the highlight on a 12-race card that also includes the $100,000 Ladies’ Turf Sprint.
Two weeks ago, Walsh had Zofelle fit and ready off an extended vacation to register an impressive and popular victory in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River. He’ll look to do the same with La Signare, who has not started since finishing fifth, beaten only four lengths by Civil Union, in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational on Oct. 10 at Belmont Park. The outing was the second Grade 1 appearance of the season for La Signare, who also gave a good account of herself when defeated less than five lengths by Eclipse Award winner Rushing Fall in the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland.
La Signare is no stranger to Gulfstream Park, having rallied from the rear of the field to a three-quarter-length victory over Zofelle in the one-mile Sand Springs here last winter. She also won her only previous start at the nine -furlong distance of the Suwannee River, leading throughout to upset the Grade 3 Wonder Again at Belmont Park during spring 2018.
“We just backed off her after she ran at Belmont, and she’s been working great for her return, she seems like she’s ready to go,” Walsh said. “She likes this course here at Gulfstream, and if she runs her best race on Saturday I think she’s one of the ones to beat. We’ve changed her running style over the last year by design. I think she needs a certain degree of cover early on in her races, and there always seems to be some pace in mile and one-eighth races on the turf at Gulfstream.”
Tyler Gaffalione will be reunited with La Signare for the first time since the pair teamed to capture the Sand Springs 10 months earlier.
Only eight horses were entered for the Suwannee River, including Mylastfirstkiss, who is designated main track only. There is a 40 percent chance of rain in the forecast for the local area Saturday.
The lightly raced but promising Great Island will test graded stakes waters for the first time. She exits a big effort in the Via Borghese, where she finished second behind Always Shopping before ultimately being disqualified and placed third for causing interference in the stretch run. Always Shopping flattered the effort by returning to win the 1 1/2-mile La Prevoyante here on Pegasus Day. Trained by Chad Brown, Great Island had captured her two previous starts in impressive fashion in Kentucky.
Logic N Reason, a winner of two of her last three outings for trainer Christophe Clement, figures to be a pace presence in a lineup that also includes Makeme Dream, Loving Moment, Tiltingatwindmills, and Drop a Hint.
Barring a last-minute change in plans, the five-furlong Ladies’ Turf Sprint will be the final start for Lady’s Island in the colors of her longtime owners, the partnership of Averill Racing LLC and Matties Racing. Lady’s Island is scheduled to be sold next week at the Fasig-Tipton winter mixed sale in Kentucky.
“It’s going to be tough to see her go,” trainer Georgina Baxter lamented Thursday. “Especially after having Pay Any Price leave us just a month ago. She’s been amazing for us, she’ll be missed as a racehorse, but she’s also a pleasure to be around. She gives you something to look forward to coming to the barn every morning.”
If the race goes as scheduled, the Ladies’ Turf will mark only the fifth time Lady’s Island will have competed on turf in a career during which she has won 17 of 34 starts, including an allowance race at Gulfstream Park West on the grass in October 2019. She enters the Ladies’ Turf off a game head victory in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl decided over the main track here Dec. 12.
“She won this race a couple of years ago when it was moved to a sloppy main track, and there is a good chance for rain on Saturday, which obviously we’re rooting for,” Baxter said. “But she’s doing well, her last work was probably one of her best ever, and the distance is no problem with her speed.”
Baxter’s lone concern is that Lady’s Island will be racing without Lasix for the first time, as will all the horses competing in both stakes on Saturday’s card.
“She’s a 7-year-old running without Lasix for the first time, so obviously it’s something to think about,” Baxter said.
The Ladies’ Turf lured a field of eight that also includes the top three finishers from the five-furlong Abundantia Stakes on New Year’s Day – Hear My Prayer, Victory Kingdom, and Tracy Ann’s Legacy, respectively – along with A Bit of Both, winner of the 5 1/2-furlong Honey Bee over the Monmouth Park turf course in spring 2019.