(Rymska favored in G3 Suwannee River on Saturday / Photo Courtesy of Gulfstream Park)
From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:
Madaket Stables, Tom Coleman, Team Hanley and Norton Herrick’s multiple graded-stakes winner Rymska will be the horse to beat when she kicks off her 5-year-old campaign in Saturday’s $150,000 Suwannee River (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 72nd running of the 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River for fillies and mares 4 and older on the grass co-headlines a 12-race program that includes the $100,000 El Prado for 4-year-olds and up sprinting 7 1/2 furlongs over the turf course. First race post time is noon.
French-bred Rymska will be making just her 12th career start and ninth since coming to the U.S. in the fall of 2016 for trainer Chad Brown, who has won two of the last three runnings of the Suwannee River with Elysea’s World (2018) and Tammy the Torpedo (2016). Brown also won with Tottie in 2010.
Rymska won the 2017 Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream in her 3-year-old debut, then went unraced until taking the Commonwealth Oaks (G3) nearly eight months later at Laurel Park. She closed the year winning the Winter Memories Stakes that November at Aqueduct.
Last year, Rymska didn’t make her first start until August, finishing second in an optional claiming allowance at Saratoga. She then gave Brown his third straight victory in the Athenia (G3) at Aqueduct before ending the year running sixth, beaten three lengths, in the Matriarch (G1) Dec. 2 at Del Mar.
“Unfortunately, she’s had some gaps in her racing due to some minor injuries here and there, but the ownership group has been very patient every time we’ve rested her to get her right,” Brown said. “When she is right, she’s very good.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. is named to ride Rymska from Post 4 of eight at topweight of 123 pounds.
Emory Hamilton’s homebred Special Event will be making her fifth straight start in graded-stakes company, seeking her first win. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, the 5-year-old Arch mare has placed in three of those races, most recently closing from well back with Ortiz up to be third by 2 1/2 lengths in the one-mile My Charmer (G3) Dec. 15 at Gulfstream.
“I thought her race here was really, really good the last time she ran. Irad, he thought maybe if he knew her a little bit better, it could have been even better,” McGaughey said. “Going a little bit farther I think is going to help her. She’s had her time between races and she’s trained really well at Payson [Park].”
Special Event, second in the 1 1/16-mile Eatontown (G3) and third in the 1 1/8-mile Matchmaker (G3) last summer at Monmouth Park, has finished worse than third once in six tries since being moved to the turf after running a distant fourth as the favorite in a dirt allowance last winter at Gulfstream.
“I don’t know if it was necessarily how we planned it but she didn’t run any good here on the dirt the last time, so we figured we might as well give [turf] a try and it made a big difference,” McGaughey said. “That’s one of the things at Payson, I can take them up there and breeze them on the turf where I can see, and she been doing really well going into this one.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the call on Special Event from Post 2 at 117 pounds.
To date, Ivan Dalos’ Tall Oaks Farm homebred Avie’s Mineshaft has raced exclusively in her native Ontario, Canada, where she has made two of her last three starts on grass after making her first seven over Woodbine’s synthetic surface.
The Suwannee River will be Avie’s Mineshaft’s third try at a graded-stakes, after finishing fourth in the 2017 Mazarine (G3) and 2018 Selene (G3). She won the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where Stakes last August in her turf debut, and most recently was second in the 1 1/8-mile Carotene Stakes, also on the grass, Oct. 20.
A half-sister to multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old Avie’s Flatter, also owned by Dalos and trained by Josie Carroll, Avie’s Mineshaft has been working steadily at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, since December.
“After her last race at Woodbine we turned her out for three or four weeks just to freshen her up and then brought her right into Palm Meadows and sort of had this race in mind to sort of start her campaign for this year,” Carroll said. “We’ll see. It’s always tough to win a race here.”
Avie’s Mineshaft, a 4-year-old daughter of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, has finished in the top three in six of her 10 career starts. She will carry 121 pounds including jockey Chris Landeros from Post 3.
“She’s fairly uncomplicated. She’ll hopefully be in a position to chase the pack and then come running,” Carroll said. “I think further is actually better for her but I think on this course she’ll be good going a mile and an eighth. It’s a little bit shorter stretch than what she’s used to at Woodbine, so she’ll have to placed where she can be competitive.”
Completing the field are American Frolic, winner of the Miss Gracie Stakes last fall at Gulfstream; Peach of a Gal, who captured the Christiana Stakes last summer at Delaware Park; two-time turf stakes winner Valedictorian; 2017 Sanibel Island Stakes winner Conquest Hardcandy, most recently second in the 7 1/2-furlong South Beach Jan. 26; and multiple stakes-placed Vagabond Princess.