Salty captured her stakes debut in Saturday’s $250,000 GulfstreamPark Oaks (G2) under jockey Joel Rosario, and in the process earned a shot at the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.
The Quality Road filly is not currently nominated to the Kentucky Oaks, but her connections indicated the filly is now targeting the Run for the Lilies.
Salty earned not only her first stakes win but 100 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks. The Gulfstream Park Oaks is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and offered up a total of 170 points to the respective top four finishers.
Salty easily took home the majority of those points, good for the second spot on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard. She also improved her lifetime mark to 3-2-1-0, $180,370, having just broken her maiden for new trainer Mark Casse on March 5 at Gulfstream Park.
Tequilita, winner of the Forward Gal Stakes (G2) last out, was no match for Salty, finishing 4 1/4 lengths behind in second as the winner stopped the clock in 1:42.91 for 1 1/16 miles over Gulfstream Park’s fast main track. She moved into the fifth spot on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 50 total points.
Jordan’s Henny, a half-length second in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2) last out, just got her neck in front of pacesetter Nonna Bella to take third. That boosted her into eighth on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 40 points, while Nonna Bella made her debut in 24th with 10 points.
Salty was sent off the even-money favorite in the Gulfstream Park Oaks despite having never faced winners. She ran second by a neck while making her career debut for trainer Ian Wilkes, but was transferred to Casse after Gary Barber entered into a partnership with owners Baccari Racing Stable and Chester Prince.
Salty is out of the stakes-placed Dixie Union mare Theycallmeladyluck, who is a half-sister to Grade 3 runner-up Sheer Luck.
GULFSTREAM PARK OAKS QUOTES
Joel Rosario, jockey Salty, winner
“I thought that there would be some speed, and it was exactly how it happened. I got her going a little early because of the first wire. She responded very, very nice. The more you ride her the more she keeps giving it to you. I felt confident in the last turn when she was trying to get up and getting close to the leader.”
Mark Casse, trainer Salty, winner
“We were back a little farther than I thought we would be. You’re always worried when you think a filly would run two turns when you look at her physique and everything, but (jockey) Joel (Rosario) got her moving three-quarters of a mile out and that’s a long, sustained run – I was a little nervous about it. Even afterward, Joel said, ‘Maybe I moved a little early.’ But she’s extremely talented as everyone saw today. We’re excited just to have her.
“I was a little concerned and even Joel said he maybe moved a little quick. He didn’t realize how hot the pace was, but they were getting away from him. He put her in a drive from probably three-quarters of a mile out and that’s hard to do, especially with a filly making her first start around two turns. But that’s how good she is. The first time we breezed her down here, (son and assistant) Norman (Casse) called me and said, ‘This is a really good horse.’ I said, ‘I hope so.’
“We were impressed with her first start. She ran the same day that Classic Empire ran and that evening I called Gary (Barber) and I said, ‘I saw a filly that I really like run today,’ and I told him who and he said, ‘I liked her, too.’ We started pursuing her and Gary bought part of her with the current owners and breeder.”
Is the Kentucky Oaks next? “That's the plan."