December 10, 2016
While American Gal (Concord Point) looked every bit a legitimate 4-5 shot in Saturday’s GI Starlet S. at Los Alamitos off her much-talked-about out-in-the-parking-lot third in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, up-and-comer Abel Tasman (Quality Road) had other ideas, and rallied determinedly to reel in the chalk and post a 12-1 upset. The latter was green, but showed some late interest when fifth sprinting at Del Mar Aug. 20. She donned cap and gown when stretched to a Santa Anita Mile Sept. 30, and entered this off a seven-furlong allowance tally back at Del Mar Nov. 18.
Abel Tasman was unhurried early as she got to the rail into the first turn before making good headway down the backside to take closer order. She was scrubbed on a bit more after a half in :46.78, and American Gal revved up with a menacing move out in the clear during another no-cover journey. On her wrong lead with work to do in upper stretch, Abel Tasman was kept after by Joe Talamo, and leveled off nicely late to deal the chalk a decisive blow.
“She’s improving with every start and I knew she was going to run big today because she came home great in her last workout (four furlongs in :48 1/5 at Santa Anita Dec. 3),” Talamo said. “The added distance was in her favor and it looked on paper like there was a lot of speed to help set things up. I actually thought we would be a little bit closer, but they went pretty fast and it worked out perfect.’’
Added winning trainer Simon Callaghan, “We thought she would definitely be more forwardly placed, but Joe went to Plan B and it worked out. He saved ground and gave her a real chilly ride. I think the distance is the key for this filly. We decided to supplement ($10,000) because she was getting good at the right time and I thought she had the stamina for this race.”