As if this year’s 3-year-old filly class wasn’t already loaded with talent, now you can add Gerrymander to the list of first-row sophomores who bear attention every time they enter a starting gate.
In case you needed more proof that the likes of Secret Oath, Nest (more on her in a moment), Kathleen O and Echo Zulu have company, Gerrymander provided it in Saturday’s Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park. The Into Mischief filly turned her second start after a 182-day layoff into her third victory in six races.
Going off at 6.50/1, Gerrymander took the early lead before letting Juju’s Map and Shahama take command coming into the turn. Then, Joel Rosario aboard Gerrymander, decided enough was enough. He swung three-wide at the top of the stretch, cleared his rivals at the three-sixteenths pole and rolled home by three lengths.
The victory gave trainer Chad Brown his second stakes score of the day; he earlier won the Wild Applause with Eminent Victor. It gave Gerrymander, who clocked a 95 Beyer Speed Figure and career-best 107 Equibase Speed Figure, her first graded stakes victory. More importantly, it continued the jostling and jockeying for position and prominence atop the already-crowded 3-year-old filly division.
Juju’s Map, Shahama were betting favorites
To mild surprise, it was Gerrymander, not Juju’s Map, UAE Oaks winner Shahama or the slumping Venti Valentine, who finished 11 ½ lengths back in last, doing the jostling. But when you peel back the onion on Gerrymander’s career further, glimpses of this talent emerge.
The reason Gerrymander went off at 6.50/1; Juju’s Map was the 1/2 favorite, came because of her last outing. That was a dismal sixth by nearly 10 lengths in the Grade 2 Eight Belles on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. Gerrymander came into the Eight Belles off a six-month layoff.
So one clunker was probably in the offing. Especially when you looked at what Gerrymander accomplished to that point: never finish outside the exacta in four races (2-2-0). Her last race before her hiatus was a gate-to-wire, half-length victory over eventual stakes winner Magic Circle in the Listed Tempted Stakes at Belmont Park. The filly three-quarters of a length back in third? Nest.
Gerrymander has street cred you probably didn’t know
Yes, Gerrymander owns a stakes victory over the Kentucky Oaks and Belmont Stakes runner-up. The same Nest who also won the Grade 1 Ashland by 8 ¼ lengths. That alone, should boost her street and betting cred. In case you need more, she also finished runner-up to Echo Zulu in the Grade 1 Frizette, albeit by 7 ¼ lengths.
So what’s next for Gerrymander? Brown noted her pedigree makes her ideal for the 1 ¼-mile Grade 1 Alabama Aug. 20 at Saratoga. Gerrymander is out of Ruby Lips, a graded stakes-placed Hard Spun mare who also foaled dirt marathon millionaire Lone Rock.
“Being a half (sister) to Lone Rock, who is a cool, consistent horse who runs all day on the dirt, you’d figure she’d have some similarities,” Brown said. “Hopefully, with her pedigree, I don’t think a mile and a quarter is out of the question for this horse. I’d like to try and get to the Alabama with her.”