01/25/2013 1:42PM

Gulfstream: Mystic Love a standout but no cinch in Sweetest Chant

Courtney Heeney
Mystic Love is perfect in three starts on grass.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After beating a field of males that included Charming Kitten and Itsmyluckyday in the Dania Beach, both of whom came back to win stakes in their next starts, Mystic Love figures to be a standout returning against her own sex in Sunday’s $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes. But even Mystic Love’s trainer, Jessica Campitelli, admits the gals may be every bit as tough as the guys in the turf division this winter at Gulfstream Park.

“You’d think this would be an easier spot, but I believe the fillies may be tougher than the boys here this year,” said Campitelli. “Although that’s not the reason why we ran against colts the last time. That was more about timing and distance than anything else.”

Mystic Love rallied from just off the pace, slipping through along the hedge under a brilliant ride by Elvis Trujillo to register a half-length decision over Charming Kitten in the one-mile Dania Beach on Dec. 15. Charming Kitten flattered the effort by winning the Kitten’s Joy Stakes here last weekend. Itsmyluckyday, who registered a dominating victory two weeks later in the Gulfstream Park Derby, was among the also-rans that day.

Mystic Love, who is perfect in three starts on grass, indicated her readiness for the Sweetest Chant by working an easy five furlongs in 59.60 seconds over the main track despite finishing into a stiff headwind on Jan. 13.

“She’s not speed-crazy, but she is very aggressive in her breezes, she gets a lot out of them,” said Campitelli. “She couldn’t be doing better coming into this race. I can’t think of any excuses right now. She accomplished what we expected in her last start, and that was to get a mile, and now she will have the opportunity to run a mile again on Sunday.”

As Campitelli noted, there are no shortage of top contenders in the Sweetest Chant.

Premier Steps, an Irish-bred filly who disappointed in her U.S. debut in November, figures to improve off that effort and may be the one to beat. Premier Steps, Group 3-placed in England at 2, was knocked back at the start of Hollywood Park’s Grade 3 Miesque and never entered serious contention, finishing sixth as the 4-5 favorite.

“She really got squeezed at the start, and it totally took her out of position,” said trainer Chad Brown. “She trains like a horse who is a lot more tactical than that. She made a little run down the lane, but I’m just putting a line through the race. Obviously we were very disappointed. I would never ship a horse that far away for her U.S. debut if I didn’t really think highly of her.”

Caroline Thomas has posted back-to-back victories since finishing second in a key maiden special weight race on the grass when she launched her career at Belmont Park late last summer for trainer Barclay Tagg. Caroline Thomas is a homebred daughter of Bit of Whimsey who won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II for Tagg during her racing career.

Discreet Marq and Leinan both won stakes at 2. Discreet Marq captured an overnight stakes at Aqueduct in her juvenile finale before finishing third after setting the pace to midstretch of her 3-year-old bow in the Ginger Brew. Leinan won the Glorious Song over Woodbine’s synthetic surface on Nov. 11.

Jadira, I O Ireland, and Heading to Toga complete the field.