Friday, November 11, 2016

Pletcher Trainee Alto Belle Wins GP West Feature

Alto Belle beat Screaming Skylar by a nose in Thursday’s third and feature race at the Gulfstream Park West meet.

Alto Belle, at 5-1, took the lead entering the stretch of the one mile dirt allowance/optional claimer for fillies and mares three-years-old and up. She then held off the late bid by 7-1 shot Screaming Skylar.

Both horses were at attractive odds even though they have stakes racing experience and prominent trainers—Todd Pletcher for Alto Belle and Jorge Navarro for Screaming Skylar.

And the race was a possible preview for the Gulfstream Park championship meet, beginning on Dec. 3, when Navarro might again be chasing Pletcher in the trainer standings.

The GP West meet is at Calder, and is being run by Gulfstream Park under a lease agreement.

The Thursday feature had a $35,000 purse and a $62,500 optional claiming price. None of the runners were in for a tag.

Alto Belle won in 1:37.81 on the track listed as fast. Eddie Castro rode her for Pletcher and owner Alto Racing.  Emisael Jaramillo rode Screaming Skylar for Navarro and owner Rockingham Ranch.

Teri’s Big Heart, at 10-1, finished third in the six-horse field and was 5 ½ lengths behind Screaming Skylar.

The $2 exacta paid $85.60 and the $2 trifecta paid $450.40.

Chilean Import Caboclo do Rio (7-1) finished fourth.
The two favorites Delta Girl (3-2) and Danessa Again (9-5) finished fifth and sixth respectively.

Both are lightly raced and were coming off impressive front-running wins at Gulfstream. But on Thursday neither proved to be a match for Alto Belle and Screaming Skylar.

The Thursday race was the first in Florida for Alto Belle and for Screaming Skylar.

The three-year-old Alto Belle came into it after a seven-month layoff.  On April 9, she finished fourth in the Weber City Miss Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Laurel Park.

Thursday’s win was the third in seven career starts for Alto Belle.  All of the victories were in non-stakes races.

Screaming Skylar, a four-year-old, raced in California until this summer when Rockingham Ranch transferred her from trainer Peter Miller and moved her east to Navarro.

Pletcher is second in wins at the GP West meet with ten in 29 starts.  Defending champion Antonio Sano leads with 15 wins in 86 starts.

Pletcher has spent the early part of this month at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., for the Breeders’ Cup and at Aqueduct in Ozone Park, N.Y.

A group of his assistants, headed by Anthony Sciametta, is managing the Pletcher early-arriving horses that are stabled at Palm Beach Downs in Delray Beach.

Thursday was Navarro’s first day at this year’s GP West meet.  He sent out five starters, with three second place finishes and two third place finishes.

In 2015-2016, Pletcher won his 13th straight Gulfstream championship meet training title. He had 62 wins in 253 starts.

Navarro was second in wins at that meet, with 46 in 154 starts.  His record included stakes wins, with star sprinter X Y Jet, and other horses, and a  high winning percentage in claiming and optional claiming races.

This summer, Navarro won his fourth consecutive trainers’ title at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
--Jim Freer

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