Nancy From Nairobi seeking back-to-back graded wins in Gamely

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Jen Caldwell

May 28th, 2016

Nancy From Nairobi brings a three-race win streak into Santa Anita Park’s Memorial Day feature, the $300,000 Gamely (G1) going 1 1/8 miles on the turf, and could continue her streak under jockey Abel Lezcano.

The duo first teamed up in December after the bay mare shipped stateside from England. She dropped her initial two U.S. starts before taking an allowance/optional claimer on February 5.

Nancy From Nairobi quickly followed that with another win one step up on March 4, then took a slight break before reappearing in the May 5 Royal Heroine (G2). On that day the John Sadler trainee rallied from midpack while three wide in the lane to post a half-length score. She earned a nice 97 BRIS Speed rating and could make it two stakes wins in a row on Monday.

Nancy From Nairobi will see some familiar faces in the Gamely. Fanticola, Elektrum and Keri Belle also took part in the Royal Heroine, finishing third, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Fanticola was the defending Royal Heroine champion, with that edition coming after she just missed by a neck in the 2015 Gamely. Fourth-place finishes followed in the John C. Mabee (G2) and Rodeo Drive (G1) to close out the Silent Name mare’s five-year-old campaign, and she opened 2016 with a nice third in the off-the-turf Las Cienegas (G3). Fanticola could easily find her way back to the winner’s circle in this spot.

Elektrum last visited the winner’s circle when taking the 2015 Mabee while Keri Belle’s most recent victory came in the Megahertz (G3) to kick off her six-year-old season on January 18. The Royal Heroine was a form departure for those two competitors, as Keri Belle next out filled the third spot in the Buena Vista (G2) and Elektrum was never worse than fourth in her next three graded efforts. Either runner could rebound in a big way in the Gamely.

Wekeela and Illuminant both exit the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland on April 16, where the former found herself five lengths behind Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) champion Tepin on the wire and Illuminant finished another 1 1/2 lengths behind in third.

Wekeela was making her U.S. debut in that spot, coming from France as a Group 3 winner and Group 1-placed, and could jump up in a big way in her second stateside effort. Illuminant reputed herself well, trying stakes rivals for just the third time in the Jenny Wiley after running fourth in both Monrovia (G2) and La Canada (G2) to open the year.

Completing the Gamely field on Memorial Day Monday are Grade 2 heroine Nashoba’s Gold, unplaced in her last six tries against black-type rivals, and stakes debuters Evo Campo and Dressed to a T.

Also in California on Monday, a field of 12 has been entered to go a mile in the $100,000 All American (G3) at Golden Gate Fields a little over an hour before the Gamely.

Leading that bunch is Living the Life, who’s captured the last two editions of the Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2) on the Tapeta. The Gary Mandella-trained six-year-old, the only mare in the field, also boasts a win in the Camilla Urso S. over the track from March 2015. She’s placed in the Santa Margarita (G1) and Santa Maria (G2) thus far this year, and gets Drayden Van Dyke in the saddle as she faces the boys.

G. G. Ryder captured last year’s All American by 1 1/4 lengths over the returning Outside Nashville. Eagle Screams was fourth in the 2015 edition, just two lengths behind the winner, and has also shown back up for another try at the race.

Nancy From Nairobi photo courtesy of Benoit Photos