Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) sported not only a $250,000 purse, but 100 points to the winner toward a starting berth in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
The 1 1/16-mile race was the first in the Championship portion of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races to award 100-40-20-10 points to the respective top four, and Mike Tarp’s homebred Go Maggie Go was quick to take advantage of that windfall to secure herself a top spot on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard.
The Dale Romans trainee just broke her maiden only three weeks ago on March 13 but showed no signs of weariness when attending the early pace set by Paola Queen. Go Maggie Go wrested away control of the Gulfstream Park Oaks rounding the final turn and easily held Paola Queen and 4-5 favorite Off the Tracks at bay to score by 2 1/4 lengths on the wire.
Even though she was facing winners for the first time in this spot, Go Maggie Go was still the third choice at 4-1. She stopped the clock in 1:43.74 and paid $10 for the victory.
Paola Queen also entered the Gulfstream Park Oaks off a maiden win, though that one came on February 14. Off the Tracks (20 points) suffered her first loss in this spot, but she joined Paola Queen (40 points) in making her debut on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard.
Gomo returned in this spot off a more than six-month break, having last been seen taking the Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland, and added another 10 points to the 10 she already earned in that contest.
Go Maggie Go is now two-for-two in her career and has banked $175,900 in lifetime earnings. Bred in Kentucky, she is out of the Tale of the Cat mare Magibel, making her a half-sister to Grade 2 victor Wallyanna.
GULFSTREAM PARK OAKS QUOTES
Dale Romans, trainer Go Maggie Go, winner: “She’s just quality, and when they’re doing as good as her and they’re the quality she is, you can run in an a-other-than and win by 15 and say why didn’t I run in a stake? There was only seven horses in here. If you run third you’re worth a lot of money. If she can do that, she can win so why not be here? We can always back up for a $50,000 pot.
“She had one start, sprinting, so going two turns the first time you would expect to be close to the pace. Anytime you have speed, that’s another reason for running (Takeittotheedge) in the Florida Derby ([G1] later in the day), anytime you have speed on this racetrack speed is dangerous.”
Romans on his second straight Gulfstream Park Oaks win: “It’s just the way things have fallen. I’m not that much of a planner. When the horses are doing good we run, and it’s just coincidence.”
Romans on Go Maggie Go targeting the Kentucky Oaks (G1): “I would think so. We’ll train her and if she’s training good and doing good like she was going into this, that’s the key. You have to just know when they’re doing good. She was training so good, why not take a shot?”
Luis Saez, jockey Go Maggie Go, winner: “I had a perfect trip. She broke good and was right there. When we came to the half-mile pole and I asked her, I had a lot of horse. In the stretch I thought somebody might come and get me, but when I hit her, she responded.”
Javier Castellano, jockey Paola Queen, second: “Good trip. I wanted to dictate the pace. The field was tough and we beat some nice horses today. A lot of credit to my horse. She ran huge.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer Off the Tracks, third: “I thought she ran OK, (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) thought she didn’t really handle the muddy surface that well. She put in a pretty good move on the turn and then kinda flattened out a little bit. I thought that considering it was her first time in the slop and around two turns that it was credible, but Johnny felt that she really didn’t like the wet surface.”
Doug O’Neill, trainer Gomo, fourth: “I thought she ran dynamite off the layoff. To run fourth in the Florida Oaks is sensational off the layoff. The track was heavy, so I thought she ran great. This race will really tighten her up for the Kentucky Oaks. We’ll plan for that and play it by ear.”