Seltzer Thoroughbreds' Finest City was the 1 1/4-length victor at odds of 8-1 in Saturday's Grade 2 Great Lady M. Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course. The 4-year-old daughter of City Zip set a new track record for 6 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track, covering the distance in 1:14.48 for Ian Kruljac, giving the trainer his first ever stakes victory.
“We knew we had a very nice filly and we've just had to give her time,” said Kruljac, 27. “It paid off today. The post really helped her. She likes to run free and clear and she's had some trips where's she's been stuck inside. All I told (jockey) Kent (Desormeaux) before the race was 'Good luck.' You don't really tell a Hall of Famer how to do their job. I thought we could win today because she is all heart and I really didn't think we had seen her best yet. The way she settled we might try to stretch her out. I want to thank the owners (Seltzer Thoroughbreds), my father (trainer Eric Kruljac) and everyone at the barn for believing in me.”
Thirteen Arrows was out-sprinted at the start by the heavy favorite Fantastic Style, but the former filly quickly took command, drawing out to a half-length lead over the favorite through a first quarter in :21.56. Former claimer Lost Bus tracked those two from third, while Finest City relaxed near the rear of the field under meet-leading rider Kent Desormeaux. Thirteen Arrows extended her lead to nearly two lengths at one point, but by the half-mile in :44.81, she was within a neck of Fantastic Style once again.
Entering the stretch, Fantastic Style took command, but could not shake Lost Bus, who rallied up her outside. It appeared to be a two-horse race until Desormeaux unleashed the late-running Finest City, who swept up the outside to win by 1 1/4 lengths, setting a new track record in the process. Fantastic Style managed to hold second over a gritty Lost Bus, and Minks Aprise finished third.
“I'd worked her a couple of times in the morning and she was very good,” said Desormeaux. “I was elated the way she went to the post like a real professional, then went to school when she got to the gate. Even though she has a lot of speed, she was able to relax perfectly and it worked out great the way they were going up front.''
Bred in Pennsylvania by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing, Finest City was an $85,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Sale. Out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, Finest City had placed in a single Grade 2 event prior to today's start, and recorded her first graded stakes victory with the Great Lady M score. Her career record improved to 3-3-1 from 10 starts, with a lifetime bankroll of $275,000.
Watch the race replay here:
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