Lighting up the toteboard in Forward Gal

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Jen Caldwell

January 23rd, 2015

Ekati's Phaeton (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)Saturday’s Forward Gal S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park has come up pretty competitive with 11 sophomore fillies throwing their hat in the ring.

In addition to the winner’s share of the $200,000 purse, there are also 10 points up for grabs on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series.

This seven-furlong contest, the January 3 Santa Ynez (G2) and the Beaumont S. (G2) going seven furlongs, 184 yards at Keeneland on April 12 are the only races in the series that take place under a mile, and plenty in here are looking to cash in on that fact.

Seduire (Elusive Quality) is the 5-2 morning-line favorite after taking the aforementioned 6 1/2-furlong Santa Ynez last out. The gray filly led all the way home to score by 2 1/4 lengths in that event, but will be shipping outside of California for the first time to try the Forward Gal.

As well-matched as this field is, an opportunity exists for a horse at bigger odds to step up and win.

Two such runners are Ekati’s Phaeton (Tale of Ekati) and Skipalute (Midnight Lute). Both fillies are listed at 8-1 on the morning-line.

Ekati’s Phaeton is coming off a win over the track, having captured the six-furlong Old Hat S. (G3) on January 3 by a half-length. The dark bay filly’s final odds were 7-1 for that victory, and she earned a 95 BRIS Speed figure and a 104 E2 BRIS Pace rating for the effort.

Ekati’s Phaeton had Luis Saez in the saddle for the Old Hat and he’ll be returning to ride the Bill Kaplan trainee in the Forward Gal.

Skipalute has yet to win a race, but the Eddie Kenneally pupil has been close in all but one of her five starts to date. She ran second in two of three maidens at Churchill Downs and Saratoga, then tried stakes company at Belmont Park in early October.

The black filly finished second in the six-furlong Matron S. (G2) and showed up last out to fill that same spot while stretching out to a mile for the Delta Downs Princess (G3) on November 22.

Skipalute went off at 8-1 in the Matron and was 7-1 for the Delta Downs Princess, so there is a good chance her odds will remain steady, if not actually rise a bit, in the Forward Gal. The only thing that could affect her price would be getting recent Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano in the saddle on Saturday.

While Skipalute’s numbers aren’t quite as high as others in the Forward Gal, the three-year-old lass could find herself in the perfect spot to pick up the pieces in this speed-laden field.

One final longshot choice before signing off -- Taylor S (Medaglia d’Oro).

The filly’s (possible) namesake Taylor Swift’s album “1989” is getting close to selling four million copies and reaching quadruple platinum after lighting up Billboard’s Top Album chart at number one in nine of the 12 weeks it’s been listed.

Taylor S could emulate that and light up the Gulfstream toteboard in the Forward Gal. She was made 10-1 on the morning-line but is exiting a stellar 6 1/4-length, gate-to-wire victory against optional claimers going six furlongs at Churchill Downs in late November, for which she earned a field-best 102 BRIS Speed rating. The dark bay lass was 6-5 on that occasion, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if her odds drop a bit Saturday.

The Dale Romans trainee has competed four times and romped in her two wins while sprinting. Taylor S’s two losses came at a mile and above, so the Forward Gal’s seven furlongs could be just what the filly needs to make a name for herself.

Photo: Ekati's Phaeton (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)