There was fast action and drama galore, and like all the best thrillers, it ended with a plot twist. Caramel Swirl (Union Rags) had been keeping good company in her last two starts, but by the end of a wild running of the GII Gallant Bloom S., her losing streak would be over via the double disqualification of Sterling Silver (Cupid) and Headland (Paynter), both of whom would be placed behind her.
Company doesn't come tougher than two Champions, and that is exactly who Caramel Swirl had to contend with last out in the GI Ballerina H.–won by MGISW Echo Zulu (Gun Runner), second was MGISW Goodnight Olive (Ghostzapper), and losing third by a nose to MGISW Matareya (Pioneerof the Nile)–and two back in the GII Bed O'Roses S., where she ran behind Goodnight Olive as well as the gritty MGSW & MGISP Wicked Halo (Gun Runner).
In her customary spot at the very back of the field after the jump, she settled into the trip from the rail and was called on by Junior Alvarado for a rally passing the five-sixteenths marker. Moved out for room in upper stretch as Headland was intent on making the race from the rail, she was closing fast into the final furlong but had all moment stopped when Sterling Silver and Headland closed her gap outside the sixteenth pole. Doing her best to find her feet in the closing strides, she picked up the unofficial third place spot as Sterling Silver crossed the line first with Headland coming in behind her.
After a lengthy objection and stewards' inquiry involving the entire board, the winner and the runner-up were both disqualified for interference in separate events. The official order of finish was then Caramel Swirl, Sterling Silver, and Headland to third.
“She was there for me and she was fighting. I thought I had the horse to hold my spot and protect myself right there. She ran great,” said Alvarado afterwards.
Of what happened during the running, he added: “I had a horse outside of me coming from the seven path [Sterling Silver] and I didn't mind because I knew they would try to squeeze me a little there. It's a big race and you have to defend your race. But they both [Sterling Silver and Headland] got right in front of me. I clipped heels with the horse to the inside [Headland], then when I got out of there, I was [shut off] by the horse outside of me [Sterling Silver]. That takes it to a different level. Now, I'm in a terrible spot where I almost went down. I'm just glad everybody got back safe, and I think it was the right decision.”
When asked about a potential start in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Michael Banahan, director of bloodstock for Godolphin, reported that while Caramel Swirl had run against some of the expected competitors in the field before, the plan was for Matareya to go to the race as well. “We'll get [Caramel Swirl] back and see how she is and go from there. Two is better than one, so we'll see what we can do.”
In the G2 Gallant Bloom:
Junior Alvarado aboard Caramel Swirl claimed foul against Sterling Silver & Headland. Both claims allowed resulting in a double DQ.
Claims of foul by Dylan Davis aboard Beguine v. Caramel Swirl & Sterling Silver were not allowed.
OFFICIAL finish 1-2-6-4
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— Carlitos Solorzano (@carlosimbatible) October 1, 2023
Out of a half-sister to MGISW Frosted (Tapit) and GSW Indulgent (Bernardini), Caramel Swirl is another successful homebred for the venerable Godolphin operation. Hailing from a female line filled with track and breeding successes such as champion 2-year-old colt, MGISW Midshipman; GSW Elsa (Animal Kingdom); MGISP Gouverneur Morris (Constitution) and a fleet of Group winners in Australia, the victress is the most successful runner for dam Caramel Snap. The mare has produced a 2-year-old Decatur Street (Street Sense) and a yearling full-brother to Caramel Swirl who had been exported to Japan last year. She went to Not This Time for 2024.
Sunday, Belmont The Big A
GALLANT BLOOM S.-GII, $250,000, Belmont The Big A, 10-1, 3yo/up, f/m, 6 1/2f, 1:16.18, ft.
1–CARAMEL SWIRL, 124, m, 5, by Union Rags
1st Dam: Caramel Snap, by Smart Strike
2nd Dam: Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister
3rd Dam: Fleet Lady, by Avenue of Flags
O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-William I. Mott; J-Junior Alvarado. $137,500. Lifetime Record: GISP, 16-6-4-3, $779,950. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Sterling Silver, 122, f, 4, Cupid–Sheet Humor, by Distorted Humor. ($13,000 Ylg '20 FTKSEL). O-Mark T. Anderson; B-Mallory & Karen Mort (NY); T-Thomas Albertrani. $50,000.
3–Headland, 122, m, 7, Paynter–Miss Sheltowee, by Najran.1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($17,000 Wlg '16 KEENOV; $25,000 Ylg '17 OBSWIN; $50,000 2yo '18 OBSAPR). O-Thomas and Daryn A. Brockley; B-Sheltowee Farm & WinStar Farm, LLC (KY); T-George Weaver. $30,000.
Margins: 1, 4, HF. Odds: 0.95, 6.30, 18.60.
Also Ran: Beguine, Undervalued Asset, Remain Anonymous.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.