Awesome Maria will be seeking her sixth consecutive stakes score on Saturday when she starts as the likely odds-on favorite in the Rampart Stakes (G3) on the Florida Derby card.
Owned by Mrs. E. Paul Robsham, Awesome Maria got the best of Eclipse champion Royal Delta by eight lengths in the Sabin Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park last time out. John Velazquez will be aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher. Awesome Maria won the 1 1/8-mile race last year by eight lengths.
After winning both the Sabin and Rampart last year the striking gray daughter of Maria’s Mon went on to register victories in the Shuvee Handicap (G2) in May and the Ogden Phipps Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park before heading to the sidelines with a condylar fracture. She was a leading contender for an Eclipse Award at the time she suffered the injury.
“Her first start back was encouraging. She certainly hasn’t lost a step,” said Pletcher. “We were really pleased with that effort. She was coming off a long layoff. She might even improve for the Rampart.”
The Rampart lost some of its luster when the connections of Florida-bred Awesome Feather announced earlier this week that the undefeated filly would miss the Rampart because she had not been herself in recent training.
Gulfstream Park Publicity contributed to this report.
Awesome Maria/Coglianese photo