Off since a seventh-place finish in the G3 Fall Highweight last November, Lady Sheila Stable's La Verdad coasted home much the best over three rivals in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack. It was the 5-year-old mare's 11th win in 17 starts.
Winner of the Distaff last year, La Verdad broke sharply and immediately took the lead under jockey Jose Ortiz. Aireofdistinction moved up to challenge the odds-on favorite, and the two ran the first quarter in :22.25 and the half-mile in :44.87 before La Verdad began to move away under mild urging, crossing the wire an easy winner. Final time for six furlongs was 1:10 flat.
“She had a clean break, I went to the rail and the three horse [Aireofdistinction] came out to challenge her, but really wasn't a factor at the turn,” said Ortiz. “I cruised by her at the three-eighths pole, at the quarter-pole I looked back for the two horse [Mamdooha]. I let her pick up at the three-sixteenths pole, and I only hit her couple of times and she went easy. I just let her do her thing.
“I have to give credit to Linda [Rice] and her staff because they work very hard every morning to get her ready and they really deserve this.”
Frivolity battled past Mamdooha to finish second; Aireofdistinction finished last of four after drifting wide on the far turn.
Linda Rice trains La Verdad, who won six races last year, including four stakes victories. She was also second to multiple G1 winner Artemis Agrotera in the G2 Gallant Bloom Stakes Sept. 20 at Belmont Park.
“I wasn't happy when I saw [Aireofdistinction] coming after her early, and they were going pretty fast,” Rice said. “I was a little concerned that was going to make it a real test on her fitness, but her ability is the key. She's got a lot of talent and is able to overcome that.
“I can only hope that she comes back and races as well as she has the last year and a half for us. I had her in training for quite a long time without a vacation, and after the Fall Highweight I decided to turn her out for a couple months; she deserved it.”
Bred in New York by Eklektikos Stable LLC, La Verdad is by Three Chimneys Farm's Yes It's True out of the Hook and Ladder mare Noble Fire.
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