02/09/2017 11:30AM

Kentucky Oaks prospect Elate getting started in Suncoast Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Elate won her only start, a maiden special weight race, by 12 1/2 lengths.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Does Elate have the kind of talent to give Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott his first victory in the Kentucky Oaks this spring? Her smashing debut hints that she might, and a similarly strong effort in the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday surely would stamp her as a filly to watch.

“I’m certainly thinking in that direction,” Mott said when asked if Elate is a Kentucky Oaks filly. “We think she’s a nice filly. Hopefully, this will be a springboard to what we’re trying to get done.”

Elate, a homebred for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, made one start as a juvenile, romping by 12 1/2 lengths in a $60,000 maiden special weight race at Aqueduct on Nov. 26. She earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure for that one-mile race, a mark that stands out in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies for the Suncoast, which covers one mile and 40 yards.

Elate has breezed only four times since that victory, all at Payson Park since Jan. 17. Two of those works were bullet half-miles. Jose Ortiz, aboard for her debut, will ride her from post 8.

“I don’t know that she’s totally cranked, but we want to get her started so we don’t fall too far behind,” Mott said. “She’s been training OK. We backed off of her a little bit after her win when we got to Florida, and we’ve slowly been getting her ready. We really haven’t done that much with her. There are some fillies in there that are probably cranked up pretty good, but we’re just starting out. I’d love to see a good race out of her.”

Suncoast (Race 8)

KEY CONTENDERS

Elate, by Medaglia d’Oro
Beyer: 88

◗ Gets Lasix for the first time.

◗ Mott and Ortiz have won with seven of their last 25 starters together for a $1.97 return on investment.

R Angel Katelyn, by High Cotton
Last 3 Beyers: 71-69-78

◗ She’s used her eye-catching speed to win three consecutive sprint stakes and will be stretching out to a route for the first time. In the $86,000 Gasparilla Stakes here Jan. 21, she prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths and survived a stewards’ inquiry after drifting out several times in the lane. Prior to that, she won the $89,000 Sandpiper Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths on Dec. 3 while making her local debut for leading trainer Gerald Bennett.

“Mott’s horse looks tough in there, but he has to come to our playground, so we’ll see what happens,” co-owner Richard Averill said.

Party Boat, by Into Mischief
Last 3 Beyers: 72-47-71

◗ A stakes winner on a sloppy main track at Gulfstream for trainer Graham Motion in December, she gets back on dirt after a sixth-place finish in a turf stakes.

Venus Serena, by Colonel John
Last 3 Beyers: 68-54-36

◗ Takes a huge step up in class off an impressive four-length maiden special weight win in her fourth start for trainer Eoin Harty.