Fawkes Has Double-Barreled Threat for Azalea
Thursday, July 20, 2023

    HALLANDALE BEACH - Royalight Racing’s Charlie’s Wish and Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Trust Me are scheduled to team up for Saturday’s $75,000 Azalea at Gulfstream Park, where the David Fawkes-trained duo will take on likely favorite Flakes in the seven-furlong stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

    Charlie’s Wish will seek to turn the tables on Flakes Saturday after falling a neck shy of catching BC Racing’s daughter of Frosted last time out in the 6 ½-furlong Game Face on June 17. The 3-year-old daughter of First Dude rated in mid-pack before making a five-wide sweep to loom as a danger at the top of the stretch. She continued her drive in the stretch but was unable to overtake Flakes over a muddy track.

    “That filly beat us fair and square,” Fawkes said. “The track was muddy. She was kind of climbing on the turn. She didn’t really level off until turning for home and she just kind of ran out of racetrack.”

    Prior to her Game Face effort, Charlie’s Wish stretched out to 1 1/16 miles in a Churchill Downs optional claiming allowance on May 5, rallying into the stretch to finish second by a neck.

    “She ran so big at Churchill. It was so disappointing,” Fawkes said. “The last couple of jumps she got just a little flat on me, but I thought she ran great.”

    Charlie’s Wish easily captured a six-furlong optional claiming race during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet before shipping to Churchill Downs.

    Trust Me made an auspicious 2023 debut while capturing a June 16 optional claiming allowance at six furlongs by 7 ¼ lengths. “She ran a huge race,” Fawkes said.

    The homebred daughter of The Big Beast had demonstrated talent during her three-race juvenile campaign, finishing second in her debut before graduating by three lengths and finishing third in the Florida Sire Stakes Desert Vixen. “The Big Beasts have been a lot better as they get older,” Fawkes said. 

    Leonel Reyes has the return call on the ultra consistent Charlies Wish, who has been in the money in all but one of her eight career starts. Trust Me will be ridden back by Miguel Vasquez. Both Charlie’s Wish and Trust Me are eligible for the $25,000 FTBA bonus available to a registered Florida-bred winner, as is Flakes.

    Prior to holding off Charlie’s Wish in the Game Face, Flakes set the pace in a mile optional claiming allowance before finishing second to Imonra, who went on to finish second in the Gr. III Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows. Edgard Zayas has the return mount aboard Flakes, who previously finished third in the Gr. II Gulfstream Park Oaks.

    Daniel Walters, Dennis Smith, Anthony Smith and trainer Rohan Crichton’s Kikilove, who finished a distant third behind Imonra and Flakes while stretching out to a mile, should appreciate a cutback in distance Saturday. The daughter of The Big Beast, who won two starter allowances during the Championship Meet, captured a seven-furlong Florida-bred allowance in her previous start. Edwin Gonzalez is scheduled to ride Kikilove for the first time Saturday.

    Red Diamond Stable’s Jellicle Katz, Champion Equine’s One of One, Pep Stables’ Just Mercy, and trainer Diley Dakin’s Principia round out the field.

    Kikilove, Just Mercy, and Principia are also eligible for the FTBOA bonus.

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