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Gulfstream Park: My Pal Chrisy tries to transfer good form across town in Ocala
By Mike Welsch
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Sunday’s $100,000 Ocala will be run at Gulfstream Park, but certainly has the look of a Calder stakes with five of the six fillies and mares in the field stabled across town at the North Miami oval.
If the one-mile Ocala were to be run at Calder, My Pal Chrisy would be hard to look past, having posted all eight of her career victories over her home course. But with the final stakes of the 2012 south Florida racing season to be decided at Gulfstream, the favorite and 123-pound highweight may prove vulnerable.
My Pal Chrisy has not started since running arguably the best race of her career when drawing off to 7 1/4-length victory in defense of her title in Calder’s Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap on Nov. 10. She has been entered and scratched three times since, all in turf stakes.
“I put her in each of those races in case they came off the grass,” trainer Padarath Lutchman said. “I definitely believe her performance in the Heubeck was her best so far, and I don’t believe we’ve seen the best of her yet.”
The question remains whether My Pal Chrisy, who will concede from four to eight pounds to her five foes in the Ocala, can transfer her Calder form to Gulfstream. My Pal Chrisy, a daughter of Alex’s Pal, ran three times here during the 2011-12 meeting, finishing off the board and far back in each of those outings although her competition in those races did include two of the best fillies and mares in the country, Groupie Doll and Awesome Feather.
“Her form tailed off last year when she ran at Gulfstream and then when I took her north to Churchill Downs and Keeneland,” Lutchman said. “But once I got her home and back training at Calder, she started training and running like her old self again. I think a lot of it has to do with maturity, which is why I’m not too concerned about bringing her back over to Gulfstream again on Sunday. I think she’ll handle the surface.”
My Pal Chrisy will again be ridden by her regular jockey, Luca Panici.
Two of the six fillies and mares entered in the Ocala, Golden Mystery and Speak Easy Gal, come from the barn of trainer Marty Wolfson. Golden Mystery appears to be the most dangerous of the pair coming off a second-place finish behind the odds-on Dust and Diamonds in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl earlier this month. She also was narrowly defeated by the reigning older female sprint champion Musical Romance in Calder’s Mike Sherman Memorial on Oct. 6.
Golden Mystery has made all but two of her 35 career starts at distances less than a mile. But she did finish third behind the odds-on All Due Respect after setting the pace to midstretch in the 2011 Ocala.
Speak Easy Gal has a similar running style as her stablemate, but has made the majority of her 28 starts on turf. Speak Easy Gal did finish second, beaten less than a length by Callmethesqueeze, over the main track at Calder under allowance conditions during the fall.
Successful Song will close her 2012 campaign the same way it began, by running in the Ocala. She finished a distant seventh in the first edition decided this year back on Jan. 8, but rebounded to win an overnight stakes this past summer at Monmouth Park. She proved no match for My Pal Chrisy, finishing a tiring third, as the 2-1 favorite in the Elmer Heubeck.
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