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Close Hatches wires allowance at Gulfstream Park
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott's arsenal of three-year-old filly talent continued to get deeper Sunday at Gulfstream Park as Juddmonte Farm's Close Hatches passed her first distance test with flying colors drawing off to 1 1/4 length victory over Catalyst Stable and partners' Kimberly Jean in the 3RD race, 'a other than' allowance test going 1 1/16 miles under jockey Joel Rosario.
Close Hatches, who was timed in 1:43 2/5 over the fast track, paid $3.80, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 4-5 favorite in the field of six sophomore fillies. Montana Native finished another 1 1/2 lengths back in third behind runner-up Kimberly Jean.
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Juddmonte stallion First Defence, Close Hatches was very impressive winning her seven-furlong career debut at Gulfstream on January 26 by seven lengths under Rosario and now joins Emollient, Calistoga and Flashy Gray as impressive allowance race winners at the Florida track this season.
"They're all nominated for the (Grade 1 Kentucky) Oaks," said Mott, who will be happy to deal with the challenge of choosing a path to the $1 million race at Churchill Downs on May 3. "There are good races for them about every two weeks and we'll see which ones up for which races as they come along. It is a good position to be in."
The Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks at 1 1/8 miles will be run on Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream on March 30 and will likely be a target for at least one of the Mott team.
Other upcoming point races for the Kentucky Oaks include the Grade 2, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks; Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks; Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland at Keeneland; Grade 2, $250,000 Gazelle at Aqueduct; and Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park. The Fair Grounds Oaks is scheduled on March 30 while the Santa Anita Oaks, Ashland and Gazelle will take place on April 6. The Fantasy is set for April 10.
Emollient is the most experienced of the Mott-trained fillies with four starts. Following a second-place debut at Saratoga last summer she broke her maiden at Belmont Park by 2 3/4 lengths in late September and finished second as the 4-5 favorite after stumbling at the break in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct in late November.
The Empire Maker filly won a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Gulfstream on February 16 over sloppy going as the 1-2 favorite. Flashy Gray finished second in Saturday's Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park while Calistoga has won both of her career starts at the current Gulfstream meet by big margins.