Her second career on hold for the present, Sola Gratia is taking full advantage of her second time around on the racetrack. After winning two of four starts, the Florida-bred 5-year-old mare made her stakes debut at Gulfstream Park on Aug. 10.
Sola Gratia added to her resume as a future broodmare in the $100,000 Ta Wee Stakes, in which she made a bold bid for a victory in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes, only to be caught late by stablemate Millennia by a half-length.
“She’s bigger, stronger and better,” Fawkes said of the now stakes-placed Sola Gratia.
It took a vastly improved performance by Brinker Hill Farm’s Millennia to deny Sola Gratia a victorious stakes debut. Although Millennia held a decided edge in stakes experience over her stablemate, she was viewed by the bettors as a riskier proposition in her quest for her first stakes victory in the Ta Wee. Sent to post at 12-1, while Sola Gratia was the second choice at 3-1, Millennia charged from well off the pace to score impressively.
“She’s put a lot of weight on; she’s filled out; she’s matured a lot the past six months,” Fawkes said. “I wasn’t completely surprised at the victory.”
Both of the Fawkes-trained mares will return in Saturday’s $100,000 Our Dear Peggy Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Jilver Chamafi has the return mount aboard Sola Gratia, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, while Jesus Rios will try to make it two in a row aboard Millennia, rated second at 3-1, excluding the main-track-only entrants.
“This race is a little tougher race, but I expect them both to run good,” Fawkes said. "Millennia is doing super and Sola had a good work (Sunday). I’m happy with both horses.”
Trainer Marty Wolfson, who saddled My Pal Chrisy for victory in last Saturday’s Musical Romance Stakes at Gulfstream, will saddle a newcomer to the South Florida racing scene in Diamond d’Oro.
A recent private purchase by Miller Racing, LLC, which has put together a powerhouse stable of fillies and mares, Diamond d’Oro captured a five-furlong allowance race on turf at Monmouth Park in her most recent start.
“We’re going to stretch her out. She’s been sprinting on the turf,” said Wolfson, whose filly is rated fourth at 5-1. “She’s very nice. I watched her run at Monmouth.”
The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has finished in the money in six of seven starts on turf, all at sprint distances.
“She’s bred to go long. She acts like she’ll go long,” Wolfson said. “There’s not a lot of speed in the race. I think she’ll be tough in front.”
Wolfson also entered Swinger’s Party in the Our Dear Peggy as a main-track-only entrant. Also a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, the 3-year-old filly finished second behind Dreaming of Sophia over a sloppy track at Gulfstream in the off-the-turf Cellars Shiraz Stakes two starts back on July 3.
The Bill Kaplan-trained Putyourdreamsaway and the Stanley Gold-trained Awesome Belle were also entered for main-track-only starts in the event the Our Dear Peggy should be moved from the turf course. Putyourdreamsaway won the $125,000 Susan’s Girl Stakes over a sloppy track last year. Multiple-stakes winner Awesome Belle, who has been off-the-board in two starts on turf at the summer meeting, is also a stakes winner on an off track.
Kaplan also entered Dreamlicious and Putitinmypocket in the Our Dear Peggy. Dreamlicious, who finished sixth behind Millennia in the Ta Wee over a firm course, was stakes-placed last time out over a course labeled good and had romped to an eight-length allowance win over a sloppy Gulfstream Park track three starts back.
“I wouldn’t mind if it rained Saturday,” Kaplan said.
Putitinmypocket made only her second start on turf last time out at Gulfstream Park and lost by a neck against $25,000 claimers in a much improved performance under Juan Leyva.
“She got reunited with Juan, who won a stake with her at Tampa. He said she handled the turf great,” Kaplan said. “She’s been an in-and-out horse. Sometimes she runs great and sometimes not so great.”
Parranda, a winner over the Gulfstream turf last February, is set for a return to action at the Hallandale Beach track in the Our Dear Peggy after competing at Monmouth Park during the summer. The 4-year-old daughter of English Channel, rated third in the morning line at 4-1, finished second in an overnight stakes at the New Jersey track last time out. The Rodolfo Garcia-trained filly possesses a strong late kick.
Steve Towne-trained Creative License, an allowance winner at Gulfstream on July 4, will be seeking to rebound from a seventh-place finish in the Wasted Tears Stakes, in which she tired after pressing the early pace.