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Gulfstream: Questing auditions for Keeneland's Ashland in turf feature
By Mike Welsch
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The last time Questing raced, it was on the main track in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for trainer John Gosden. When Questing launches her 3-year-old campaign in Wednesday’s $62,750 main event at Gulfstream Park, she will be competing on the turf against a modest field of first-level optional $75,000 claimers and will be saddled for the first time by her new trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin .
Questing figures to be a heavy favorite to win her 3-year-old debut. A homebred daughter of Hard Spun, owned by Darley Stable, Questing began her career on grass in England, where she won her maiden at first asking going seven furlongs last June. She made two more starts across the Pond before shipping to the U.S. for the Breeders’ Cup, missing a head and a neck in a pair of Group 3 stakes.
Questing turned in a good effort making her main track bow in the Juvenile Fillies, finishing fifth of 14 despite getting shuffled back in traffic from along the rail around the far turn and finishing on her left lead. She has trained throughout the winter with McLaughlin at Palm Meadows.
“She came to us right away from John Gosden after the Breeders’ Cup,” said McLaughlin. “She’s trained well and we have decided to put her back on the turf because we think, although we’re not certain, she might be a little better on grass than dirt.”
McLaughlin said if Questing were to perform well on Wednesday, she could earn herself a starting berth in the Grade 1 Ashland next month at Keeneland.
“The Ashland over the synthetic surface at Keeneland would be a possible option for her if she runs well,” said McLaughlin. “But I want to just get through Wednesday first before starting to make any other plans.”
Questing, who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, will face 11 other 3-year-olds going a mile, including stakes winner Sinister Brew, who accounted for the John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall at Calder. A Florida bred who is owned by her breeder Tracy Pinchin and trained by Jose Pinchin, Sinister Brew fits the conditions of Wednesday’s race because the John Franks was a restricted stakes limited only to Florida-breds.
Medieval Cat looks like the one to catch despite the fact she has not started since winning her maiden by nearly eight lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs last August at Ellis Park. A daughter of Discreet Cat, Medieval Cat is trained by Ken McPeek, whose barn has really heated up here over the past several weeks.
Sweet and Lovely has posted a win and a second in two starts over the local course and is a logical contender for trainer Ian Wilkes. Todd Pletcher will send out Channel Lady, idle since winning her maiden impressively under a $75,000 price tag on Jan. 19. Call My Lawyer has never been worse than second in four previous starts but has never raced on grass.
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