“Her half sister (Bayou’s Lassie) won stakes on this turf course (including the 2006 Calder Oaks) and was a graded stakes winner on grass,” Gold said when asked about the decision to move Awesome Belle to the turf. “So we have every reason to think she’ll handle the turf. At this point, we know she likes dirt, but we think she will go on to be pretty good on turf, too.”
Still in contention through the final turn, the filly drifted out considerably while backing up at the head of the stretch, a development Gold attributes to fatigue.
“She was just dead tired,” the trainer explained. “She wasn’t fit to go a mile that day. In her first start back going six furlongs (in the Grade 3 Old Hat) she was a little short, and when we stretched her out for that turf race, she was short again. Plus they had gone a pretty good clip that race, which she was close to. That wore her out.”
Gold figures Awesome Belle to be fit for Saturday’s Oaks, and is encouraged with the way the filly has handled her morning preparations for the race, working three times since her last start, all at five furlongs, including a bullet drill on April 20.
“It’s actually a little tempting to try and sprint her,” Gold stated. “She went 1:00 (the other day) and galloped out in 1:13. But the thing about two turns is that she can carry her speed comfortably without getting buried. She can show speed, without needing to show speed. And I know (jockey) Luis (Jurado) will be able to put her where she needs to be.”
REDBUD ROAD POINTING TOWARDS FRENCH VILLAGE
Awesome Belle is not the only 3-year-old stakes-winning filly in the Gold barn that is preparing for an upcoming stakes appearance at Calder. Redbud Road, last year’s winner of the $100,000 J J’s Dream and the $75,000 Desert Vixen Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes, is scheduled to make her sophomore debut in the $75,000 French Village Stakes May 12.
“She’s ready to run,” Gold said of the filly that has not started since a third-place finish in last year’s $300,000 My Dear Girl. “Unfortunately there really isn’t a prep race for her, so we’ll have to go right into the stakes.
Redbud Road has been working out with some regularity since mid-February and has posted seven official morning moves in preparation for her return. One of those works came this past Wednesday when the filly covered five furlongs in 1:01, the fastest of six at the distance.
“Last year after the Stallion Stakes we decided to give her a rest,” Gold said. “But her works coming back have been good. We had her breeze again yesterday, and she’ll go back to the track tomorrow morning to jog. And we’ll just continue on the same pattern leading up to the race.”
Nominations for the $75,000 French Village Stakes, to be run over six furlongs of Calder dirt, will close Saturday, April 28. Also closing that day is the $75,000 In Summation for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.
GONZALES TRIPLES; NOW SEVEN POUND APPRENTICE
Apprentice jockey Jonathan Gonzales entered last weekend with just one victory in his young riding career, but after visiting the winner’s circle on Saturday with Mr. Hadif for trainer Angel Medina, the young Peruvian native returned to win three races on Sunday, all for conditioner Luis Duco, to shed his 10-pound apprentice allowance in favor of a seven-pound weight break.
“He’s been working for me as an exercise rider for about a year and he’s a real hard worker,” Duco said. “I think he’s going to be a pretty good rider and I plan to use him and help him out any chance I can.”
Gonzales’ first victory on the Sunday card came in race four aboard Criolla Linda. The young jockey returned to the winner’s circle with Barra d’Oro following the sixth race before coming back one race later to tally his third victory of the day, and his last as a 10-pound apprentice, when guiding Gimmeawinkpoppy through the wire first.
Through the completion of the Sunday card, Gonzales had catapulted his way to seventh in the jockey standings while Duco’s three wins placed the conditioner in a four-way tie for third in the trainer’s table.