Mare Also Takes $10,000 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes Top 3 Bonus
BY BROCK SHERIDAN
In search of running room coming out of the far turn, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. steered Sweet Dani Girl off the rail and the 5-year-old mare responded with a dominating stretch run to win the $89,000 Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf by a length-and-a-half over Baby Steps in second at Gulfstream Park Sunday. It was the second consecutive victory in the Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf for the popular Sweet Dani Girl, who won as the 3-5 favorite in the one-mile turf event for seven Florida-bred fillies and mares.
Sweet Dani Girl produced a $55,570 payday for owners Michael Dubb, Steven Bouchey, New Phoenix Stable and America’s Pastime Stables LLC which included a $10,000 Florida Sire Stakes Top 3 Bonus presented by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association. It was the first start for Sweet Dani Girl under the new ownership after she sold for $350,000 to MLD Racing at the 2023 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale in November.
Third-place finisher Charlie’s Wish earned a $4,000 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes Top 3 bonus to push her check to $11,350.
Baby Steps, who was making her first start since winning the $60,000 Starfish Bay overnight handicap at Gulfstream on Sept. 30, set the pace in the Filly & Mare Turf, leading Tracy’s Ann’s Legacy by a length through the first quarter-mile in :23.23. Ortiz had Sweet Dani Girl tracking in third on the rail from about a length-and-a-half back with Time Passage, who broke through the starting gate before the race, to her outside in fourth.
Baby Steps continued to lead through a half-mile :48.41 as Time Passage moved up to challenge her heading into the far turn while Thelastbulletsmine advanced three-wide to box in Sweet Dani Girl on the inside.
Baby Steps stepped away from her rivals at the top of the stretch which cleared the way for Sweet Dani Girl to find her best stride from second as Time Passage and Thelastbulletsmine began to fade on the outside.
Baby Steps still had a length-and-a-half on Sweet Dani Girl passing the eighth pole but could not vend off the heavy favorite, who shot past the frontrunner to win in 1:35.25 on the firm turf. Baby Steps held on for second, a half-length ahead of Charlie’s Wish. They were followed, in order, by Thelastbulletsmine, Both Sides, Time Passage and Tracy Ann’s Legacy.
“I saved ground into the first turn of the race and the pace slowed down a little more than what I wanted on the backside, but she was handling it. She was waiting for me,” Ortiz said. “I see a hole inside and kind of like go forward and she responded. We cut the corner and followed the horse on the lead, then I tip her out and she was finishing very nice.”
Trained by Christophe Clement, Sweet Dani Girl paid $2.60 to win.
“She’s trained well. There was a small question mark because there was a lot of speed in the race and she’s been winning with another trainer on the lead,” Clement said. “Irad did a great job and she was the best horse today.”
It was the first victory for Sweet Dani Girl since winning the $110,000 Pleasant Acres Stallion Distaff Turf at Tampa Bay Downs in March although she was graded stakes-placed twice with a second to Didia in the Grade 3 Modesty in May and a third in the Grade 3 Mint Julep won by Henrietta Topham in June, both on the Churchill Downs turf.
Clement said Sweet Dani Girl is expected to make her next start defending her title in the Pleasant Acres Stallions Distaff Turf on March 24, Florida Cup Day at Tampa Bay Downs.
Sweet Dani Girl improved her lifetime record to five wins in 14 starts with two seconds and two thirds and earnings of $437,410.
She is by Jess’s Dream out of My Sweet Dani Girl, by Scat Daddy and was bred in Florida by J&J Stables LLC and Carlo Vaccarezza. Sweet Dani Girl is the only winner from three starters for My Sweet Dani Girl, who has an unnamed 2-year-old colt by Ocala Stud stallion Adios Charlie, a yearling colt by Dak Attack and a weanling filly by Code of Honor.
Return to Jan. 14 issue of Wire to Wire