La Verdad, returning to open company off an impressive stakes win against New York-breds, blasted off from post position 1 and never looked back in the Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap for filly and mare sprinters on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Seeking her seventh win in her past eighth starts and her first in a graded stakes, La Verdad wasted no time getting to the front under Jose Ortiz, leading by 1 ½ lengths through an opening quarter mile in 22.26 seconds while being tracked by Bridgehampton. She began to sneak away from that rival on the far turn, opened a 3 ½-length lead through a half in 44.93 seconds, and maintained a safe margin in the stretch as she went on to prevail by 3 ¾ lengths as the 2-1 favorite.
Kauai Katie, a four-time graded stakes winner who went off as the 2-1 second choice in her first start since July, came on from fifth to finish second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of My Pal Chrisy, who rallied from last.
The final time for six furlongs was 1:09.10, with La Verdad returning $6 for a $2 win wager.
“She broke really well,” said Ortiz. “The other filly put a little pressure on but she handled it OK. She was very relaxed. I know we went in :44, but she did it very easily. When I asked her to go at the quarter-pole, she just took off. I knew I had a lot of horse. Linda [Rice] has done a great job with her.”
In her previous start, La Verdad won the Broadway by 3 ¼ lengths on March 29 at Aqueduct. In February, she had a five-race winning streak snapped when she was second to My Wandy's Girl by one length in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park.
Linda Rice trains La Verdad, a 4-year-old daughter of Yes It's True, for Sheila Rosenblum's Lady Sheila Stable.
“I love that horse, and New York loves that horse,” said Rosenblum. “She's a New York horse. There were great horses [in the race], but she was the best one today. This is the first [graded stakes win of my life], hopefully not my last. She'll always be special. This is a really special moment, right after my daughter and son were born. She's right up there.”
Munnings Sister, Lion D N A, Miss d'Oro, and Bridgehampton completed the order of finish.
More quotes from connections:
Byron Hughes, assistant to Todd Pletcher, trainer of runner-up Kauai Katie (No. 5): “I thought she ran very well coming off a long layoff and against a tough field. If she had broken a little more sharply she could have been a little more forwardly placed. But it was definitely a good effort coming off the long layoff.”
John Velazquez, rider of runner-up Kauai Katie (No. 5): “Perfect trip. I thought she would probably lay a little bit closer than she was today. Coming off a long layoff, maybe she just needed to realize that she's running now, but she ran a good race. For a horse that's always 1-2 in the first part of the race, she was pretty far back today and put in a good effort.”
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