Zabeel Racing International’s 4-year-old filly Game Face won the Old Hat Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park last winter by seven lengths, and was back in the winner’s circle Sunday after drawing clear to win the $100,000 First Lady Stakes (G3) over the same track and six-furlong distance by 2 ¾ length under jockey John R. Velazquez.

A chestnut daughter of Menifee, Game Face was off a half-step slow and stalked the pace down the backstretch before rallying past Joseph V. Shields, Jr.’s 6-year-old pace-setter Any Limit, who held well in the stretch to finish second. Live Oak Plantation’s Slewfoundmoney rallied for third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up in the field of seven fillies and mares.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Game Face paid $4.80 to win while timed in 1:10:57 over the ‘fast’ track. She was making only her second start since finishing third in the Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in May, winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs in mid-November in between.

Winning Jockey Quotes

John R. Velazquez:

“The field went off fast and I just stayed back waiting for my chance. I let them go because I knew sooner or later she was going to respond. She loves races like this – coming off the pace. When I really asked her to give me more around the turn, she did the rest.”

Winning Trainer Quote

Todd Pletcher:

“We’ve been looking forward to running her in this race for some time. We knew from last year that she loves the track. I was a little concerned when she got pinched back a little at the break, but she was able to get clear on outside and ran her race. There wasn’t anything specifically wrong with her when we stopped on her after the Acorn last year, but she had had a pretty steady campaign already by that time. Naturally, we’re glad to have her back and we’ll look at the next one (Hurricane Bertie on Feb. 15). I think this (sprinting) is her best game and we’ll look at races up to a mile for her.”


22:63, 45:69 & 1:10:57