Date: April 1
Expertly guided through the first two-turn test of her tender career by jockey Joel Rosario, Salty made all the right moves to pass with flying colors for a handy first graded-stakes success in the GII Gulfstream Oaks Saturday afternoon.
Only fairly into stride, Salty raced with just one behind into the first corner, as Nonna Bella (Stay Thirsty), who defeated Salty a neck in their respective career debuts over 6 1/2 furlongs Feb. 4, went fairly hard and fresh in her route debut through opening splits of :23.26 for the quarter and :46.72 to the half-mile. Still well behind turning down the back, Salty was given her cue by Rosario fully five furlongs from home and made eyecatching progress to be in striking position and in the clear from fourth entering the second turn. Able to sustain her momentum while still deep on the turn, Salty ranged up to make a line of three at the quarter pole, took command while drifting out a bit in upper stretch and raced away to win decisively. Tequilita, also making her first start past a mile, rallied nicely late for second ahead of Jordan’s Henny in third. Nonna Bella failed to see out the trip and weakened to fourth.
“I was a little concerned and even [jockey] Joel [Rosario] said he maybe moved a little quick,” said winning trainer Mark Casse. “He didn’t realize how hot the pace was, but they were getting away from him. He put her in a drive from probably three-quarters of a mile out and that’s hard to do, especially with a filly making her first start around two turns. But that’s how good she is. The first time we breezed her down here, Norman called me and said, ‘This is a really good horse.’ I said, ‘I hope so.’”
No better than a 24-1 gamble when missing by just a neck to Nonna Bella on debut, Salty had new part-ownership in the form of Gary Barber when kicking away to graduate by 2 1/2 lengths Mar. 5.