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Pure Gossip upsets Miss Grillo in turf debut
Flying Zee Stables' Pure Gossip has a knack for making headlines at big odds. The Philip Serpe trainee scored at 37-1 in her career debut at Saratoga, in the New York-bred fillies' maiden named in honor of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Again overlooked at 23-1 when trying turf for the first time in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park, Pure Gossip rocketed from just off the pace to win impressively by 6 1/2 lengths. The daughter of Pure Prize, who was bred to love the grass, has now entered calculations for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Under Ryan Curatolo, Pure Gossip saved ground while stalking the pace set by Take It Inside through splits of :23 4/5, :48 4/5 and 1:14 3/5. The 3-5 favorite Alaura Michele was tracking closely on the outside, but came under pressure on the far turn and dropped away tamely.
Meanwhile, Pure Gossip was full of run and looking for an opportunity to angle out. Once switched around the longtime leader at the top of the stretch, she produced a terrific burst of acceleration. Pure Gossip looked a league apart as she bounded well clear, spread-eagling the field. The smashing winner completed 1 1/16 miles on the soft turf in 1:47 3/5 and sparked mutuels of $48.20, $13.40 and $7.
"It was great -- I had a good trip," Curatolo said. "They did a good job with that horse, first time on the grass. When I made my run, she responded. I am very happy today, because I think about (the late owner) Mr. (Carl) Lizza. I did not breeze her on the turf in the morning, but Mr. Serpe told me she loves the turf."
"We liked her turf work," Serpe said of the chestnut's five-furlong breeze in 1:02 2/5 on September 18 at Belmont, "and she's (trained) on the turf more than one time."
Serpe also noted that the filly's dam, the unraced Dixieland Band mare Dixieland Achiever, is herself a half-sister to smart three-year-old turf performer Street Game. Likewise trained by Serpe for the same connections, Street Game was a 7 1/4-length winner of the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont in June.
"Her dam is a half-sister to the good horse that Mrs. Lizza owns, Street Game," Serpe said. "It did not surprise us. She worked great on the turf, the question was the soft turf, but we thought she would be all right with it. I have to talk to Mrs. Lizza, but absolutely (we would consider the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf). That's why we do this, for sure."
Royal Bonnie crossed the wire in second, but was disqualified for causing interference in the stretch run. She swiped Bourbonstreetgirl, who was hampered en route to checking in fourth. The stewards accordingly demoted Royal Bonnie to fourth.
Mystic Mama, who initially finished third, was promoted to second, and Bourbonstreetgirl was elevated to third. Following the demoted Royal Bonnie were Take It Inside, Alaura Michele, Salsa Mambo and Tanglewood Tale. Sweet Cat and Slip Along Band were withdrawn.
Pure Gossip's successful turf debut improved her mark to 3-2-0-0, $87,750. Both prior starts had come in dirt sprints versus fellow state-breds at Saratoga. A 3 3/4-length winner going 5 1/2 furlongs on July 22, opening day at the Spa, she was subsequently fourth in the six-furlong Anne M. Clare S. on September 1.
Bred by Nustar Breeding in the Empire State, Pure Gossip is a half-sister to stakes winner Lady Vi.