Pacific Gale winning the Hurricane Bertie Stakes for Junior Alvarado and trainer John Kimmel.
Holly Hill Stables’ Pacific Gale breezed a half-mile in :48.80 Sunday on the Oklahoma training turf in preparation for a grass debut in Saturday’s $120,000 Smart N Fancy, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for older fillies and mares at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
A multiple graded stakes winner on dirt, the 6-year-old Flat Out bay worked solo under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
“She went 48 and change the right way and had a very good gallop out,” Kimmel said.
Pacific Gale blossomed over the winter in Florida, capturing the Grade 2 Inside Information in January and Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie in March, both at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
She has made her last three starts in graded stakes sprints, finishing third in the Grade 3 Vagrancy in May and fourth in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses in June, both at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., ahead of a fifth-place effort last out in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney on July 3 at Gulfstream.
Kimmel said the $500,000 Grade 1 Ketel One Ballerina, a seven-furlong main track sprint on Travers Day August 28, is coming up tough, so he has given Pacific Gale her last two works on turf to good effect.
“I always wanted to see if she had any affinity for the turf course. Even though she’s a 6-year-old, we never really got around to it. It might open up another avenue,” Kimmel said. “We gave her a couple breezes on the turf course with very positive results both visually and also Johnny thought she handled it very nicely.”
Kimmel said Chester and Mary Broman’s popular New York-bred millionaire Mr. Buff will target a third win in the nine-furlong Empire Classic for state-breds on October 30 at Belmont following his off-the-board effort in the Evan Shipman on August 11 at the Spa.
With regular pilot Junior Alvarado up, Mr. Buff did not break as alertly as usual and had to chase the pace of gate-to-wire winner Sea Foam while being hemmed in by Three Jokers.
“The weather was kind of hot for him and he was a little dull. He didn’t break that sharp and when he wanted to go, Junior had a quick moment to push him through there and he didn’t go,” Kimmel said. “He got put in a box and he was in his mouth for a good quarter of a mile trying to slow him down. When he didn’t get enough response, he put his stick away and galloped him home.
“We’ll try to make sure we have him ready for the Empire Classic,” Kimmel continued. “Cooler weather should work well for him.”
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