03/28/2012 12:31PM

Gulfstream Park: Gitchee Goomie ready for return on Friday

Barbara D. Livingston
Gitchee Goomie will try to win her first start of the season for the second consecutive year.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – A year ago, Gitchee Goomie returned from a five-month layoff to win a second-level optional-claiming race on the grass. On Friday, Gitchee Goomie will return from a similar hiatus and attempt to defeat slightly better third-level optional-claiming foes when she launches her 2012 campaign going one mile on the turf.

Gitchee Goomie has been a model of consistency throughout her career. A New York-bred, she went on to win a pair of stakes last season following her local tally, the Mount Vernon at Belmont and the Yaddo at Saratoga. She finished worse than second just once in eight starts in 2011, when fifth over yielding ground in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl.

“She’s a pretty remarkable filly,” said Rick Violette, who trains Gitchee Goomie for Patsy Symons. “She never runs a bad race. Even in the Flower Bowl, she was right there at the head of the lane, but it might have been a case of the course being too soft and the race being a little too far.”

Violette said he believes Gitchee Goomie can repeat her performance of a year ago and win again despite the layoff.

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“I think she can win,” said Violette. “It looks like a pretty good spot and at least there is some speed in there so we should have a legitimate pace. She’s the type of horse you can’t let make the lead too early or she’ll pull up. That’s probably what cost her when she finished third in the Garden City after coming from far back and getting to the front in early stretch.”

Rajiv Maragh will replace Gitchee Goomie’s regular rider, Alan Garcia, on Friday. Nine older fillies and mares, including one for the main track only, were entered for the race, and several of them are stakes-tested, including Pinch Pie, who finished seventh behind winner Winter Memories in the 2011 Garden City.

Pinch Pie, like Gitchee Goomie, has been idle five months. She was beaten less than three lengths in the Garden City before concluding her 3-year-old campaign finishing fifth in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Valley View. Pinch Pie, trained by Anthony Dutrow, shows only four works in preparation for her return.

Salary Drive, who finished a neck in front of Pinch Pie in the Garden City, has started three times here this winter and is coming off her best performance of the meet when third under similar optional-claiming conditions as Friday’s main event.

The remainder of the field comprises In the Slips, who makes her first start since being transferred to trainer Graham Motion, Sassy’s Dream, Academicienne, Prize Informant, Performing, and Canadian Mistress, who’ll compete only if the race is taken off the turf.