Tonalist’s Shape Out To Prove Gulfstream Oaks A ‘Complete Throwout’

Tonalist‘s Shape currently ranks sixth in qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), virtually assuring the daughter of Tonalist a stall in the starting gate for the Sept. 4 classic for 3-year-old fillies.

Whether the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained multiple graded-stakes winner will take a trip to Louisville, Ky., for the Oaks may well depend on her performance in Friday’s $75,000 Hollywood Wildcat at Gulfstream Park.

“Timing-wise it fits good. It gives us six or seven weeks for one more prep and hopefully go to the Kentucky Oaks,” Joseph said.

Tonalist’s Shape piled up the Oaks points with impressive victories in the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G3) and the mile Davona Dale (G2) during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet. Sent to post as the 9-5 favorite for her first race around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) March 28, Tonalist’s Shape came up empty in a seventh-place finish after racing five-wide on both turns.

“I think she’s bred for two turns. Obviously, when they don’t do it the first time, there’s doubt. There’s doubt for everyone, but for me there’s none,” Joseph said. “But she didn’t do it, so now she’s got to go out and prove it. That’s why we’re running her and trying to answer that question right away. She should get two turns, there’s no reason she shouldn’t.”

Out of a Harlan’s Holiday mare who won a stakes around two turns on dirt and won around two turns on turf, Tonalist’s Shape was undefeated prior to her Gulfstream Park Oaks disappointment. The Kentucky-bred filly, who is owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Legacy Ranch Inc. and Doug Branham, won her Sept. 28 debut at Gulfstream and an Oct. 20 first-level optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park West prior to winning the one-turn mile Hut Hut Stakes by nine lengths on the Nov. 30 opening-day program of the Championship Meet. She went on to win the Forward Gal and Davona Dale before tasting defeat for the first time in the Gulfstream Oaks. Swiss Skydiver, who won the Gulfstream Oaks, went on the win the May 1 Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn.

“She is not flashy in the morning, but on race day she shows up. That’s the first time she didn’t show up. I went on Trakus that day to find a reason. She ran 80 feet more – that worked out to eight lengths,” Joseph said. “The winner came back to win a big race at Oaklawn in the Fantasy. I think it was a complete throw-out for her.”

Tonalist’s Shape has breezed twice since the Gulfstream Oaks for her return in the Hollywood Wildcat.

“She’s been training good. We found no excuse for that race,” Joseph said. “We’re going to draw a line through that race.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. is scheduled to ride Tonalist’s Shape for the first time Friday since guiding her to victory in the Forward Gal.

The Hollywood Wildcat will also provide a key test for Teresa and David Palmer’s Cheermeister, a multiple graded-stakes winner on turf who has yet to run a race on dirt. The Armando De La Cerda-trained filly has demonstrated a high turn for speed in six career races on dirt, having captured her Oct. 14 debut, the Wait a While, the Sweetest Chant (G3) and the Herecomesthebride (G3) in front-running fashion.

Emisael Jaramillo has the return mount aboard the daughter of Bodemeister.

Black Type Thoroughbreds and R. A. Hill’s Up in Smoke is slated to seek her fourth straight victory while making her stakes debut in the Hollywood Wildcat, having won the first three races of her career by open lengths. The George Weaver-trained daughter of The Big Beast defeated Florida-bred company in her first two starts before drawing away to a three-length victory in an April 5 open optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream.

Luis Saez will be aboard for Up In Smoke’s two-turn and stakes debuts in the Hollywood Wildcat.

Wanderlust, Pleasant Orb, Money Never Sleeps, Vigilantes Way and Dream Marie round out the field.

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