Girl With a Dream gets a pat from Luis Saez after her win in the Forward Gal
Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister’s Girl With a Dream provided trainer Brad Cox with a little bit of consolation Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
One week after the Cox-trained Knicks Go was denied a repeat victory by Life Is Good in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream, Girl With a Dream led throughout the seven furlongs of the $100,000 Forward Gal (G3) to notch her first graded-stakes success by a length.
“There just aren’t a lot of graded stakes opportunities where we run, at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn, so we had targeted this race after her last start. She was doing good and came out of her last race strong, so we shipped her over Tuesday,” Cox said from Fair Grounds. “We thought we’d let her do her thing and go to the front and try and make them catch us and it worked out great.”
The Forward Gal was among five graded stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday’s program that was headlined by the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3), the first graded stakes on the Road to the Curlin Florida Derby (G1).
Girl With a Dream ($12.80) went right to the lead under Luis Saez to show the way along the backstretch as favored Radio Days dropped well off the pace. The Cox trainee set fractions of 22.85 and 45.73 seconds for the first half mile with graded stakes-placed Diamond Wow in close pursuit entering the turn into the homestretch. Radio Days launched a wide sweep into contention entering the stretch but was unable to catch the loose-on-the-lead daughter of Practical Joke.
“She broke from there pretty sharp. She went and she was pretty comfortable all the way,” Saez said. “We came to the top of the stretch and I felt like I had a lot of horse. She kept battling, and she beat them. She felt pretty big in front. I felt like every step when the other filly came close to her, she responded more. I was pretty happy to be on top of her.”
Girl With a Dream ran seven furlongs in 1:23.42. Radio Days, who entered the Forward Gal 2-for-2, finished second under Dylan Davis, 6 ¼ lengths ahead of Last Leaf and jockey Miguel Vasquez.
Girl With a Dream won her debut at Ellis Park in July before finishing far back in the Spinaway at Saratoga in September. The Kentucky-bred filly rebounded to finish second at Keeneland next time out before winning her last two starts of 2021 at Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds.
“She was really impressive in her Ellis win and I liked her in the Spinaway but she was inside and she didn’t get away great and then didn’t run her race,” Cox said.