02/19/2015 1:50PM

Stablemates Irish Mission, Tabreed square off in The Very One

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Natalie Fawkes/Coglianese Photos
Irish Mission defeated Tabreed in the La Prevoyante, but the two will face off again in The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Irish Mission and Tabreed will be bred this spring, but after running one-two in the Grade 3 La Prevoyante Handicap to end their 2014 campaigns, they earned at least one more start before going off to the breeding shed, and it comes Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

“It’s better to keep them here and run than to send them to Kentucky, where it’s freezing cold,” trainer Christophe Clement said Thursday.

Might they race once more?

“Let’s get through this race, and then we’ll see,” he said.

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Irish Mission is the more accomplished of the two. An earner of more than $1.2 million, Irish Mission has won six times in 28 starts and last year won two stakes, one at 1 3/8 miles and the other at 1 1/2 miles, both on turf.

This will be a far stronger test than the La Prevoyante since The Very One marks the return of Riposte, who won a pair of Grade 2 stakes at Belmont Park last year before heading to the sidelines. In addition, Kitten’s Point – who most recently won the Astra at Santa Anita – returns to Gulfstream Park, where she never has finished worse than second in four races.

The Very One, for older fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles on turf, drew a field of eight.

Key contenders

Irish Mission (Last 3 Beyers: 92-91-91)

* She wasn’t good enough to handle Riposte in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay in May but improved as the year progressed, with two wins, two seconds, and a third in five of her last six starts.

The only time she was not a factor during the latter half of 2014 was when pitched against the best in the world in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.


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Tabreed (Last 3 Beyers: 91-81-87)

She was winless last year in five starts, but her second-place finish in the La Prevoyante was her best effort.

She has finished second in both her starts on the Gulfstream turf.

Riposte (Last 3 Beyers: 97-98-91)

She looked like she was going to be one of the division’s leaders after consecutive wins in the Sheepshead Bay and New York but missed the rest of the year. If she comes back as good as when she left, she could be a candidate for year-end honors in this division.

She’s probably better with a target, but she has shown an ability to lead from start to finish, and with so little speed in here – plus being fresh – there’s a very good chance she winds up setting the pace.