GULFSTREAM OAKS | PURSE: $300,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD | FILLIES | GRADE 2 | 1 1/8-MILES
Wertheimer and Frere's homebred In Tune captured her stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks after a stretch-long duel with Davona Dale runner-up House Rules. The pair duked it out through the lane, with In Tune just getting her neck in front on the line to move her career record to an unbeaten three-for-three.
Jockey Javier Castellano settled In Tune just off the pacesetting Whomping Willow through splits of :24, :47 3/5 and 1:11 1/5. The Unbridled's Song filly drew even with the leader rounding the turn and found company to her outside in the form of House Rules, who had been tracking just behind. Those two battled it out with In Tune finishing 1 1/8 miles over the fast Gulfstream Park dirt in 1:50.
Sent off the even-money favorite, In Tune paid $4 for the win. It was 3 3/4 lengths behind the top pair to America, who was followed under the wire by Camille Claudel, Joint Return, Penwith and Whomping Willow. Holiday Magic was withdrawn.
"She's an amazing filly. She was really fighting," Castellano praised In Tune. "When she saw that other filly coming, she took off gain. She's undefeated. I give all the credit to the filly. She was stretching out (at 1 1/8 miles) today, and she was wonderful."
In Tune broke her maiden for trainer Todd Pletcher on January 12 at Gulfstream while going 6 1/2 furlongs, then stretched out to 1 1/16 miles on February 27 to add a 2 3/4-length optional claiming decision to her resume. Saturday's successful initial stakes bid boosted the gray filly's earnings to $229,350 and awarded her 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series. That's enough to assure In Tune a spot in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks starting gate.
"It's rare that you have one come along this quickly, a short maiden to a long 'a other than' to a graded stakes," Pletcher said. "She stepped up in class and distance each time and passed every test, so I'm very proud of her.
"She showed a lot of courage down the lane. We anticipated that there would be some other speed in there so we felt like with our post position (6) that we could sit off of it if we needed to. It pretty much unfolded like we thought."
Pletcher was especially proud of the way his filly fought back when challenged by the Allen Jerkens-trained House Rules.
"Any time one of The Chief's comes to you, you've got to be nervous. He's the greatest," Pletcher noted. "We're proud of our filly for digging in and getting it done. There's a very strong headwind coming down the lane, but the track is playing fairly."
The Kentucky-bred In Tune is out of the winning Affirmed mare Wichitoz, making her a full sister to Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Affirmatif and a half-sibling to Grade 3-placed stakes winner Chitoz. Wichitoz is herself a half-sister to 1992 champion sprinter Rubiano and the dam of Grade 1 winner and leading sire Tapit. Another of Wichitoz's half-siblings is the grandam of 2009 champion three-year-old male and Belmont Stakes conqueror Summer Bird.
In Tune's fourth dam is Foggy Note, who is best known for producing dual Grade 3-scoring top sire Relaunch, and this female family is also responsible for Grade 1 hero Golden Act, who placed in the 1979 editions of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, and 1993 champion two-year-old filly Phone Chatter.