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Undefeated Ghalia Takes Sunland Park Oaks

Undefeated Ghalia Takes Sunland Park OaksSumaya U.S. Stable's Ghalia remains undefeated in three starts after a late drive in the stretch resulted in a neck in front to win the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks March 26. Watch Video

In her first try around two turns, the Medaglia d'Oro   filly, under jockey Jose Ortiz, raced just off the frontrunners who stayed close together while setting a quick pace in the 1 1/16-mile test over a fast track at Sunland Park

Out of the gate, co-favorite Noted and Quoted and Soft Cheese battled for the early lead. For the first half-mile Soft Cheese maintained a half-length advantage and set fractions of :22.41 and :45.75. Grade 1 winner Noted and Quoted dropped back a half-mile and was eased by jockey Martin Garcia. 

Co-favorite at 9-5, Kell Paso and jockey Ry Eikleberry moved up to assume control and Ghalia, who was four lengths back in fourth, began to advance as six furlongs went in 1:10.64. Into the stretch, Ghalia went wide and in her last strides prevailed over Kell Paso at the wire for a final time of 1:44.24. 

What What What was 5 3/4 lengths back in third, another 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Conquest Slayer in fourth. Soft Cheese and McKenzie Honey rounded out the field. 

Sent off as the 2-1 second choice, Ghalia returned $6, $3, and $2.40 across the board. Kell Paso paid $3 and $2.40, while What What What was worth $3.80.

With her win, Ghalia earned 50 points toward a start in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 5. Points were awarded 50-20-10-5.

The Todd Pletcher-trainee entered off two wins earlier this year at Gulfstream Park. Most recently, she took a Feb. 15 6 1/2-furlong optional-claiming allowance race by 1 1/2 lengths. Her first time out in a six-furlong maiden special weight Jan. 22 she scored by 6 3/4. 

Bred by Darley, Edward Seltzer, and Beverly Anderson, Ghalia is out of graded stakes winner Verdana Bold. The filly was purchased by Oussama Aboughazale's International Equities Holding for $600,000 as a weanling out of the Warrendale Sales consignment to the 2014 Keeneland November sale. She now has $166,800 in earnings. 

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