Unbeaten Off the Tracks returns in Margate

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TwinSpires Staff

February 19th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Undefeated Grade 3 winner Off the Tracks makes her long-awaited return to the races Sunday in the $65,000 Margate H. for three-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park.

The 6 1/2-furlong Margate drew a field of eight, including multiple stakes-winning Florida-bred Ballet Diva and Grade 1-placed Tap to It in her sophomore debut.

Based at Gulfstream Park West with trainer Roderick Rodriguez, Off the Tracks won her only two starts as a juvenile, including a 4 1/4-length maiden victory last June at Gulfstream. She followed up the next month by sitting just off the early pace before taking the lead at the top of the stretch and rolling home a 3 1/4-length winner of the Schuylerville (G3) at Saratoga.

“We always knew she had ability and she showed it that day. We are expecting big things from her this year,” Rodriguez said. “We’re ready to get her started on her way back to the races. She’s doing well.”

Off the Tracks exited the Schuylerville with a knee injury that required surgery and she didn’t return to training until joining Rodriguez in December.

The Curlin filly shows three timed breezes at Gulfstream Park West since January 30, most recently going five furlongs in 1:02.80 from the gate on February 13.

“She has a physical presence. She looks like a colt,” Rodriguez said. “She’s very powerful, she has a long stride and she has the heart. She doesn’t want to get beat. She doesn’t like to see another horse in front of her. Hopefully she keeps that attitude.”

Rodriguez is hoping to use the Margate as a prep for the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) at 1 1/16 miles April 2 on the undercard of the $1 million Florida Derby (G1).

“Before the injury we were looking at the Spinaway (G1) and then the Breeders’ Cup,” Rodriguez said. “We’re pretty excited to have her back for the races. As long as she runs good and comes out of it good we’re probably looking at the Oaks here and then more to come. Hopefully she runs well, she stays healthy and we have a good campaign with her.”

Edgard Zayas, aboard for the maiden victory, gets a return call from post seven of eight at co-highweight of 120 pounds.

Tap to It has not raced since finishing sixth after breaking slowly and trailing throughout in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on October 31. She made her first two starts last summer in Saratoga, overcoming trouble to capture her unveiling by two lengths before rallying from another tardy start to run second behind Rachel’s Valentina in the Spinaway.

“We just gave her time. She had a lot thrown at her in a rather short amount of time at Saratoga,” trainer Ralph Nicks explained. “She wasn’t there long before she ran, and ran back in three weeks. She had plenty of time before the Breeders’ Cup but she had a little bit of (an illness). She acted like she OK but obviously got a dull effort.”

Tap to It had three works at GoldMark Farm in Ocala before rejoining Nicks at Gulfstream, where she breezed three times including five furlongs in a bullet :59.10 on February 12 and schooled in the paddock and walking ring during Thursday’s 5TH race.

“I don’t think much during the running of a race bothers her,” Nicks said. “We’re not ready for the (February 27) Davona Dale (G2), with that company, going a mile. She’s had the time off. She hasn’t had a bunch of breezes and we’re just trying to use this as a steppingstone to see where we go from here.”

The Tapit filly will carry Joel Rosario and 118 pounds from post six in the Margate.

Ballet Diva finished third in back-to-back Grade 3 races – the January 2 Old Hat and January 30 Forward Gal – at Gulfstream to open her sophomore season for trainer Stanley Gold, and thus far is 3-0-3 from seven starts at Gulfstream.

Also entered in the Margate are Always Thinking, a December 23 maiden winner at Gulfstream in her lone start; stakes debuter April Gaze, unbeaten in two starts for trainer Eddie Plesa; recent Gulfstream maiden romper Daddy’s Great Bay; Sugar Cone, opening her sophomore season after placing fourth in the Golden Rod (G2) last fall; and Grade 2-placed Disco Rose.

Off the Tracks photo courtesy of NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography