RAMPART STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | FILLIES AND MARES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/8- MILES
Devil's Cave did all her running from the start as the 1-2 favorite in the $150,000 Rampart Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park on March 29, so stablemate Gamay Noir picked up the pieces in deep stretch to win at odds of 49-1.
Off alertly in the 1 1/8-mile test for older fillies and mares, 123-pound highweight Devil's Cave went straight to the lead and was pressured throughout by multiple graded stakes winner Unlimited Budget. That rival ranged over from the outside post in a field of six to sit about half a length off the flank of the front-runner, tracking reasonable opening fractions of :24.12 and :47.67 before quickening through three-quarters in 1:10.78.
"It was too much weight on Devil's Cave, and I didn't think Unlimited Budget was going to push her like that," trainer Marty Wolfson said of Alpha Delta Stables' winner of the Feb. 16 Sabin Stakes (gr. II).
Gamay Noir, meanwhile, was well reserved by jockey Paco Lopez and inched her way up to striking position coming off the far turn. The 4-year-old Harlan's Holiday filly dug deep through a mile in 1:36.04 and sealed the deal inside the final sixteenth, getting up by three-quarters of a length after bumping a few times with fourth-place finisher Private Ensign. She posted a final time of 1:49.84 on the fast track and survived a stewards' inquiry into the stretch run.
"(At the top of the stretch) I had a lot of horse, and the other horse (Private Ensign) came over and forced me to come out," Lopez said. "I put my horse outside and she came over just a little bit and I took a hold, and my filly didn't have a problem. I went right by the other horse.
"I told (the stewards), 'I didn't bump the horse. I didn't come over on the horse-you can look.' I took a hold and moved her away. I didn't hit her with the whip, nothing. It didn't affect the race and I had a lot of horse."
Unlimited Budget, making her second start off the layup and a return to the graded ranks after running fourth in a March 8 Gulfstream allowance, was second, a neck ahead of Devil's Cave. After came Private Ensign, Triple Arch, and Oasis at Midnight. Call Pat.Molly Morgan scratched.
Gamay Noir returned a hefty $100.20, $20.20, and $4.80 on a $2 win ticket, while Unlimited Budget brought $4.20 and $2.40 with Devil's Cave paying $2.10.
Bred in Kentucky by Fares Farm out of the Unbridled mare Uncork, Gamay Noir was a $15,000 purchase from the Fares Farm dispersal at the 2013 Keeneland January horses of all ages sale when consigned by Lane's End. She raced for Crumbaugh Lane and trainer Kellyn Gorder through her first 11 outings, until she was claimed by Wolfson and Chasing Tail Stables for $100,000 this January at Gulfstream.
The Rampart was the first graded stakes score for the bay filly and her first win since a November optional claimer for her former connections on the turf at Churchill Downs. She wheeled back off a fourth in the March 15 Wayward Lass Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt at Tampa Bay Downs, and prior to that was fifth in the Sabin at Gulfstream, her only graded attempt prior to the Rampart. She now has five wins and four thirds from 15 starts and earnings of $196,366.
"I claimed her for running a route on dirt," Wolfson said. "When I ran her in Tampa she got in all kinds of trouble. She should have won. Paco rode her just like I wanted (in this race), where she makes one run, three-eighths of mile on the outside."
When Wolfson was asked if he was surprised to win with his longshot, he said Gamay Noir's effort in the Wayward Lass was sneaky good.
"She ran huge," he said. "You had to see it... she got in all kinds of trouble and should have won that race. I never would have run her back this quick, except for the way she ran."