02/14/2013 2:57PM

Gulfstream Park: Kadaya steps up to graded stakes in The Very One


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Starformer, Seanchai, and Kadaya are a perfect 5 for 5 combined in races carded at 1 3/8 miles, which means something has to give when the quartet squares off in Saturday’s $100,000 The Very One, a Grade 3 marathon to be decided at 11 furlongs over the Gulfstream Park turf course.

Starformer will likely be favored coming off her victory last fall going 1 1/2 miles in Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Long Island Handicap. But it is Kadaya who is the most intriguing member of the field. The lightly raced Irish-bred is perfect in two local starts after beginning her career in France. In her latest try, the daughter of Skylark overcame a wide trip with a late burst of speed to capture a second-level optional claiming race at 1 3/8 miles here Jan. 21.

“I know it’s a big jump up into graded company, but she should have no excuses,” trainer Bob Hess said. “There looks like three speed horses in the race, so we should get some pace. Hopefully, she’ll be able to drop right back, cut over to the rail, and they’ll go quickly up front. From all indications, the sheet numbers say she is capable of beating this field. My main concern is whether I gave her enough time between races, although from all indications she’s doing fine.”

Starformer led from start to finish under jockey Edgar Prado before outlasting Mystical Star by a neck to capture the Long Island, which was decided over a soft course Nov. 10. The win was the third in four starts for Starformer with Prado aboard and the second graded stakes success of her career. Starformer and Prado also combined to win an allowance race at 1 3/8 miles here last winter.

Seanchai also led from start to finish en route to a convincing 3 1/2-length entry-level optional claiming win when stretched to 1 3/8 miles for the first time by trainer Todd Pletcher three weeks earlier, but she’ll get a major class check stepping up into graded stakes company for the first time in The Very One.

Game Fair proved she could stay three turns when rallying to a 1 1/4-length optional claiming win when sent 1 7/16 miles in her 3-year-old finale Dec. 26. The win was the second in a row for the improving filly who defeated softer at 1 5/16 miles in her previous start at Kentucky Downs.

“She’s just been craving the added distance and has finally come to herself since I was able to run her longer,” trainer Graham Motion said.

Motion said he believes the same holds true for Angegreen, the second half of his uncoupled entry in The Very One. Angegreen, an Italian-bred, has finished off the board in her three U.S. appearances, all of which came at distances ranging from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles. Her best performance to date came in her European finale, when she finished second going 1 3/8 miles in the Group 2 Italian Oaks.

“She’s desperate to go further, but those races can be hard to find for 3-year-olds, which is why she never got the opportunity after coming over here last season,” Motion said.

Angegreen will be ridden Saturday by jockey Antoine Hamelin, who last year won the French Derby and has been with Motion galloping and working horses this winter at Palm Meadows.

Closing Range figures to have a major say in the pace along with Starformer in The Very One. Closing Range was freshened by trainer Phil Oliver after making every pole a winning one en route to her impressive 2 3/4-length victory over Ciao Bello in Calder’s Grade 3 La Prevoyante over 1 1/2 miles 11 weeks earlier.