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Not-Too-Shabby 'Gabby' wires Acorn

ELMONT, N.Y. – Although she was the early pacesetter in the Kentucky Oaks before Rachel Alexandra chewed the scenery, Arnold Zetcher’s Gabby’s Golden Gal was virtually ignored Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park in the 79th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Acorn for three-year-old fillies at a mile.

She eventually got everyone’s attention.

Under jockey Javier Castellano, the Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Medaglia d’Oro led at every call en route to a 1 ¾-length victory over favored Justwhistledixie. Like Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who was the early line favorite for Saturday’s feature race at Belmont Park – the 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes – Gabby’s Golden Gal had prepped at Sunland Park before her first Grade 1 appearance.

“She’s not real big but she puts everything into it,” said Zetcher, after Gabby’s Golden Gal delivered a $2 win payoff of 28.40. “Bob (Baffert, trainer) calls her a little keg of dynamite. This is a good distance for her. When we bred her, at the time, we thought Medaglia d’Oro had good potential, and the dam, Gabriellina Giof, was our first winner; she won the 2002 Manhattan Beach Handicap for us. We wanted to get past that last race (sixth behind Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks). We haven’t thought about what’s next, we really want to enjoy this one.”

Jockey Javier Castellano didn’t give much thought to the Acorn, after seeing how strong speed held in earlier races.

“I watched the replays of the couple races before, and she’s a really nice filly,” said Castellano, who guided his mount through fractions of 22.61, 45.39 and 1:09.01 before wining in 1:34.79. “She does break out of the gate, and I took advantage. The track is speedy today and the rail is very good; that’s the reason I took advantage. I knew handicapping the race there was a lot of speed in the race, but I broke on top and the filly gave it everything she had. I thought when I pulled them up and she came back, she was coming back tired.”

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who was to saddle Charitable Man later on in the Belmont Stakes, got second with Justwhistledixie and last with Dream Play.

“This is definitely a speed-favoring track,” he said. “The other one (Dream Play) didn’t run at all. It’s going to be an interesting Belmont.”

Casanova Move, Livin Lovin, Be Fair, Four Gifts, Doremifasollatido, Funny Moon and Dream Play completed the order of finish.


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