• Dance Card’s G1 Gazelle victory caps successful year for Godolphin
The trio of victories concluded a spectacular Heineken Holidayfest at Aqueduct Racetrack for Repole, who was 5-for-6 in stakes races, with Caixa Eletronica winning Thursday’s Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap and Notacatbutallama taking the Super Mario overnight stakes on Friday.
Stay Thirsty, who early in his career was often overshadowed by Repole’s 2010 Juvenile Champion Uncle Mo, nailed Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint champion Groupie Doll at the wire to go out on a winning note. The 4-year-old Bernardini colt, who last year took the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and the Grade 1 Travers, was winless in four previous starts in 2012, most recently headed by Flat Out in the Grade 1 TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
“That was very gratifying for a number of reasons,” said Pletcher, who also won the Cigar Mile with Left Bank (2001), Lion Tamer (2004) and Purge (2005). “It’s big for his future career to go out on a big note like that.”
Overall, Stay Thirsty was 5-5-1 from 15 starts with earnings of $1,936,000.
Unlimited Budget, now 2-for-2, and Overanalyze, who earlier won the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont, will head to Pletcher’s training base at Palm Meadows in Florida to freshen up for their 2013 campaigns along with stablemate Delhomme, who set the Remsen pace and finished third.
“Everyone came back from their efforts in good shape,” said Pletcher. “We’ll take them to Florida and sort it out from there.”
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Dance Card’s victory in Saturday’s Gazelle capped a high-quality year for Godolphin Racing, becoming the outfit’s fifth winner of a Grade 1 in 2012. The 3-year-old Tapit filly joined the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Emcee (Forego), Alpha (Travers), Questing (Alabama, Coaching Club American Oaks) and It’s Tricky (Ogden Phipps Handicap) in capturing some of the most prestigious events on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit.
Through Saturday, Godolphin runners were 14-6-9 from 49 starts and earned nearly $3.6 million, with 11 of those wins coming in graded stakes.
“If you put Darley and Godolphin together, it would be $7 million, almost,” said McLaughlin. “It was a pretty good year from only 40-odd starts.”
For Dance Card, the Gazelle was her fourth straight victory and first in a graded race, and was accomplished despite drifting out in the stretch.
“If someone acts up in the gate, you take them to the gate in the morning and school them, and watch them get better,” said McLaughlin. “When they don’t do anything wrong in training, and they do it the afternoon of the race, it can be very frustrating, but not so bad if they’re five in front. Now that she’s won a Grade 1, we may tinker a bit with her equipment.”
McLaughlin said that Irsaal, who finished seventh in the Grade 2 Remsen, returned from his efforts in good shape and may move to the turf this winter in Florida.