Jockey John R. Velazquez will be back aboard Game Face for trainer Todd Pletcher as the daughter of Menifee will likely be favored to post the fourth graded-stakes victory of her career. She won the Old Hat Stakes (G3) here early last year and the La Troienne (G3) at Churchill Downs in the spring.
Michael Bello’s 4-year-old filly Lovely Isle could be a threat on a good day for trainer Bobby Frankel with Edgar Prado picking up the mount. The daughter of Double Honor shipped here from California to finish third in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint last out on Jan. 25 after capturing the Kalookan Queen Handicap at Santa Anita on New Year’s Eve.
Completing the field of five fillies and mares drawn for the Hurricane Bertie are Caroni Stable’s Orinoquia, Eibar Coa; and Timothy O’Toole’s Saratoga Tango, Pedro Monterrey, Jr.
Hadaya Returns in Coconut Grove Sunday
Shadwell Stable’s impeccably-bred Habaya could be a short-priced favorite making her season debut in Sunday’s $125,000 Coconut Grove Stakes at Gulfstream Park as the daughter of Storm Cat and Eclipse champion Golden Apples makes her first start since capturing the Miesque Stakes (G3) at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29.
Jockey Richard Migliore retains the mount on Hadaya for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and breaks from post 5 in the bulky field of 14 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on turf. In two career starts prior to the Miesque, Hadaya won her debut on turf at Belmont and finished second in Keeneland’s Jessamine Stakes behind Laragh.
Chester Bishop and partners’ Oilgonewile will get support with Wesley Henry, Sr. getting a return call after winning the one-mile Sweetest Chant Stakes wire-to-wire on Jan. 18 going one mile. Trained by Joe Calascibetta, the daughter of Montbrook was a 22-1 longshot and scored by 1¾ lengths over Edward P. Evans’ Weekend Strike.
John Velazquez rides Weekend Strike for trainer Todd Pletcher after she rallied from 10th off 11 after a half-mile in the Sweetest Chant in a good effort. The daughter of Smart Strike finished fourth in her debut on turf at Saratoga behind Dream Empress, broke her maiden at Meadowlands in September, and finished an even fourth in an overnight stakes at Belmont in late October to complete her juvenile campaign.
James Riccio’s Exe also was running well at the end of the Sweetest Chant, finishing third, a neck behind the runner-up. Jockey Edgar Prado takes a return call on Exe for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. The roan/gray daughter of Exchange Rate won the John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf at Calder in November in her only previous start on turf.
Completing the field for the Coconut Grove are Eli Gindi and Sam Kassin’s Fast Tigress, Patricia Generazio’s Just Livin a Dream, Zayat Stable’s Jehan, A. Steven Miles Jr.’s Two Legends Farm’s Saar Treaty, Andrew Farm and Frank O’Connor’s Obsequious, Robert S. Evans’ Megachurch, Farnsworth Farm’s Gozzip Girl, G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Step Out Smartly and Three Diamonds Farm’s Seminole Lass.
Step Out Smartly was entered ‘main track only’ by trainer Rusty Arnold.