“They’re both doing extremely well and training great leading up to the race,” White said outside the Calder paddock Friday afternoon.
“We’ve liked him ever since we got him late last year,” White said of the colt. “We always thought he was going to be something more than just a nice horse. But when you start a horse in his career debut at Gulfstream, the competition is usually pretty tough, and there is little room for error. So after that, we regrouped, and he performed like we knew he could.”
Following his maiden-breaking triumph, Mr. Espresso came back to finish second in an off-the-turf allowance on May 11 before putting together consecutive allowance wins, first on grass and most recently in a race that was originally scheduled for the green but was again washed to the main track.
“He looks like a better turf horse, but he’s also shown ability on dirt, and that’s valuable when you’re racing in south Florida in the summer,” White said. “As for going in this stake, when you go through your allowance conditions like he has, the options are limited. You can either try to be a stakes horse, or you go into claiming races. This will be a good test for him to see just what kind of horse he is.”
Two races after sending out Mr. Espresso to his stakes debut in the Naked Greed, White will return to the paddock to saddle Virginia and James Gamble’s stakes-placed filly Montessa G in the Crystal Rail.
Last year, the daughter of Montbrook crossed the wire third in both the Desert Vixen Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes and the John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf, but a mid-November injury forced the filly to the sidelines where she awaited a July 4 return and a second-place finish, beaten a nose, in the Sweettrickydancer.
“Once you get over the disappointment of losing a race like that, where you were on the lead the whole way and got caught in the last jump, you can look back and appreciate the way that she ran,” White said of Montessa G’s performance in the Sweettrickydancer. “But immediately after the race, it was tough.”
Montessa G followed that effort with a troubled fifth-place finish in the Ms Brookski Stakes where she had the lead late against older fillies and mares before weakening a bit while getting jostled about.
Off those two outings, White appears confident heading into Saturday’s race.
“If I were able to draw up a race for her, this would be the race,” the trainer said. “It’s back to straight 3-year-olds, it’s on the turf, and it’s at 7 ½ furlongs. If you look back at her races where she is stakes placed, she was just caught in the final 20 yards, and those races were all at a mile or further.
“I see this as a big opportunity for her,” White continued. “I think there are four or five fillies in there that should be tough, and she is definitely one of them.”
UNBEATEN SR. QUISQUEYANO HEADED TOWARDS SEACLIFF
Trainer Luis Olivares confirmed on Friday that Rosa Tavares’ unbeaten 2-year-old Sr. Quisqueyano was pointing towards a start in the $75,000 Seacliff Stakes as part of the annual Juvenile Showcase program on August 25.
“He’s good; everything is good right now,” Olivares said of the son of Exclusive Quality. “He isn’t eligible for the Stallion Stakes so we nominated him to the Seacliff and will look to run him there.”
Sr. Quisqueyano won his career debut on April 22 before returning to post an impressive 12 ¼-length victory when meeting entry-level allowance rivals on August 11.