03/26/2017 7:20PM

Ghalia handles two turns in Sunland Park Oaks

Coady Photography
Ghalia, ridden by Jose Ortiz, prevails by a neck over Kell Paso in the Sunland Park Oaks.

Ghalia accomplished a great deal on Sunday when she edged Kell Paso by a neck in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks. Ghalia remained undefeated in three starts, won both her stakes and two-turn debut, and picked up 50 eligibility points for the Kentucky Oaks.

Noted and Quoted, the winner of last year’s Grade 1 Chandelier who in her first start at 3 was a slight favorite over Kell Paso, appeared to back out of a speed duel down the backside. She was eased and walked off, according to the chart of the Sunland Oaks.

Ghalia ($6) had one horse beat in the early stages, as Noted and Quoted broke on top from the rail and Soft Cheese darted to the lead, setting fractions of 22.41 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.75 for the half-mile while pushed by Noted and Quoted. Ghalia advanced on the final turn while Kell Paso took over through six furlongs in 1:10.64. In the stretch, Ghalia put in a determined bid to win a photo, while covering 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.24.

Jose Ortiz was aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher, and following the race Ortiz said in an interview conducted in Spanish that he was grateful to both owner Sumaya US Stable and Pletcher for the opportunity to ride Ghalia.

Ghalia started her career with a pair of sprint wins at Gulfstream Park and Pletcher said before the Sunland Oaks he was hoping the filly could follow in the footsteps of stablemate Malagacy, the Sumaya US Stable-owned colt who won both his stakes and two-turn debut in the Rebel at Oaklawn - off a pair of sprint wins at Gulfstream.

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Ghalia delivered, and earned $120,000 for her effort in the Sunland Oaks to push her earnings to $166,800. She is a daughter of  Medaglia d’Oro and the Grade 3-winning mare Verdana Bold.

Kell Paso earned 20 points for the Kentucky Oaks for her effort Sunday, while third-place finisher What What What earned 10 and Conquest Slayer, who was fourth, 5.