Sumaya U.S. Stable’s Ghalia was making her stakes debut in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks on Sunday and pulled out a neck score to remain unbeaten for trainer Todd Pletcher.
The win under jockey Jose Ortiz saw the Medaglia d’Oro filly earn 50 points toward a starting berth in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Sunland Park Oaks is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and was worth 50-20-10-5 points to the respective top four.
Kell Paso took over from early pacesetter Soft Cheese and held the lead in the lane, but couldn’t withstand Ghalia’s rally, which completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.24 over Sunland Park’s fast dirt. Kell Paso earned 20 points for finishing 5 3/4 lengths in front of third-placer What What What, but is not nominated to the Kentucky Oaks.
Third was worth 10 points to What What What while Conquest Slayer filled the fourth spot, good for five points. What What What moved into 20th on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard but, like Kell Paso, Conquest Slayer is not nominated to the race.
Ghalia captured her maiden debut by 6 3/4 lengths and then took an allowance/optional claimer by 1 1/2 lengths, both at Gulfstream Park. She stretched out past 6 1/2 furlongs in this spot to move her record to a perfect three-for-three and boost her earnings to $166,800.
Bred in Kentucky by Edward A. Seltzer, Beverly Anderson and Darley, Ghalia is out of the Grade 3-winning Rahy mare Verdana Bold.