Gainesway Stable’s Cherry Lodge led all the way under Jose Ortiz to capture the Saturday’s $150,000 Ladies Turf Sprint at Gulfstream Park. The Todd Pletcher-trained 5-year-old mare scored by 1 3/4 lengths over Just Talkin, who was closest in pursuit throughout the stakes that was forced off the grass by extended rain.
Cherry Lodge splashed five-eighths of a mile in 57.10 seconds after setting the first quarter-mile in 22.27 and the half-mile in 44.59. The daughter of 2006 Preakness winner and 3-year-old champion Bernardini paid $5.60 to win.
“To be honest, I thought our chances improved when it was taken off the turf,” Pletcher said. “She’d been training well on dirt. I actually gave some thought about running her in the Hurricane Bertie based on the strength of her last dirt breeze, but it seemed like it was coming up to be such a tough race, we opted to go in here.
“She got away alertly and the track has been playing well to speed. Our strategy was pretty straightforward: try to make the lead. She responded gamely.”
Backing up in distance also aided Cherry Lodge, who had faded to 10th in Gulfstream’s $100,000, Grade 3 My Charmer (G3) at a mile on turf in her last start. Though third in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Spinaway as a 2-year-old, this was Cherry Lodge’s first stakes victory. She’s now 4-1-2 in 10 career starts.
The Jason Servis-trained Just Talking, with 2018 Eclipse Award champion Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle, cut incrementally into her deficit in the stretch but never threatened the winner. Razorback Lady, with Romero Ramsey Maragh riding for Patrick Biancone, came in another six lengths back in third, followed by Smiling Causeway and Pastime.