HALLANDALE BEACH, FL— Spirit Wind must run like the wind to send her new connections to the winner’s circle following the $125,000 Hurricane Bertie, a six-and-a-half-furlong stakes for older fillies and mares that will co-headline Saturday’s 11-race program with the $100,000 Silks Run, a five-furlong turf dash for older horses.

She seeks her second straight stakes triumph in Saturday’s Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream Park. This could be her first victory for Miller Racing LLC and leading trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.

Sunshine State natives Spirit Wind and Dreamster will be running for an additional $20,000 Top 3 bonus for Florida-breds presented by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association.

“She’s doing well. She’s coming into the race in good order. She won [ the Sugar Swirl] for different connections. We bought her after that race,” Joseph said. “I expect her to run well.”

The 5-year-old daughter of Double Diamond Farm stallion Bahamian Squall captured the Dec. 23 Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream for owner/breeder Jacks or Better Farm Inc. and trainer Carlos David. This time she faces a deep field of eight fillies and mares, including new stablemate Libban, whom Joseph trains for C2 Racing and Paul Braverman.

Spirit Wind has been installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the Hurricane Bertie.

The Jacks or Better homebred mare has shown superior speed during an eight-race career that includes a 15 ½-length maiden score in her second start that was followed by open-lengths victories in the Any Limit and Musical Romance. Her attempt to complete an undefeated 2022 campaign fell short with a second-place finish behind multiple Grade 1-stakes winner Ce Ce in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney in July at Gulfstream.

Spirit Wind came off a nine-month layoff to capture an upper level, $62,500 optional claiming ahead of the Joseph-trained Florida-bred Bluefield in March 2023 before finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Winning Colors, won by champion Echo Zulu at Churchill Downs two months later and going to the sidelines again for six months. Transferred from Ralph Nicks to David, Spirit Wind opened up on the field early and held on late to win by a half-length in the Sugar Swirl, in which she defeated Miller Racing LLC’s Intrepid Daydream.

“She beat me a couple times. I know her quite good. She beat me with Bluefield and she beat me with Intrepid Daydream,” Joseph said. “Now we’re on her team.”

Libban returns to one-turn for the Hurricane Bertie following a pair of disappointing two-turn starts in the $50,000 Wayward Lass won by Opus Forty Two at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 13 and the Grade 3 Royal Delta behind winner Honor D Lady at Gulfstream on Feb. 17. The 4-year-old daughter of Laoban finished second in her debut in May of last year then won three straight one-turn races before being stretched out.

Edgard Zayas has the mount aboard Spirit Wind from post four, while Tyler Conner will ride Libban for the first time and start from post seven.

AMO Racing USA’s Olivia Darling, who rallied with a wide run to finish three-quarters of a length behind Spirit Wind while checking in third in the Sugar Swirl, is rated second at 2-1 on the morning line.  The 5-year-old daughter of Palace came off her promising Sugar Swirl performance to capture the Grade 2 Inside Information by two-and-a-half lengths over Bluefield on Jan. 27.

David Egan is scheduled to ride the Jorge Delgado trainee for the first time and they have post five.

Ashbrook Farm and Upland Flats Racing’s Red Carpet Ready, a multiple graded-stakes winning 4-year-old daughter of Oscar Performance, is rated third at 9-2 on the morning line for her return off an eight-month layoff.  The Rusty Arnold trainee won four of her first five starts, including victories in the Grade 3 Forward Gal at Gulfstream in February of last year and the Grade 2 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs in May before going to the sidelines following an off-the-board finish in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont Park last July.

Luis Saez, who was aboard for both graded-stakes scores, has the return call and Red Carpet Ready has drawn post two.

Sheri Greenberg Racing, Staghawk Stables, Tom Reiman and Ron Johnson’s Unifying, who has been first, second or third in nine of 10 career starts, is slated to make her graded-stakes debut Saturday. The Riley Mott-trained 4-year-old daughter of Union Rags is coming off a second to Chi Town Lady in the $50,000 Minaret at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 10 and a third behind winning Florida-bred Maryquitecontrary in the $150,000 Rampart in December. The Rampart came after a six-month layoff following a victory in the $172,000 Leslie’s Lady at Ellis Park in June.

Joel Rosario has the call on Unifying and they begin from the inside post one.

Veteran stakes performer Cheetara is scheduled to make her first start for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher since behind purchased by Mike Repole for $135,000 at the Keeneland November sale.

Paco Lopez has the call on Cheetara, a 7-year-old daughter of Daddy Long Legs who has earned more than $380,000 during her 27-race career.

Mary Lightner’s Florida-bred Dreamster and Mellon Patch Inc.’s Lady Radler round out the field.

Return to the March 7 issue of Wire to Wire