She's still flawless – on two continents.
La Renoleta earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 89 and a chance to possibly try graded stakes company again after drubbing conditioned allowance opponents at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 8 at Oaklawn, the 5-year-old mare's first start outside her native Argentina. La Renoleta won her first four career starts in Argentina, including the Estrellas Distaff (G1) June 29 – her last race in South America – before being purchased privately by Kentucky bloodstock agent Peter Bradley III (Bradley Thoroughbreds).
La Renoleta won her American debut by 9 ¾ lengths as the heavy favorite under six-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. Santana rode the winner for his major client, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has topped the Oaklawn standings 10 times since 2007.
“When you think one's going to run really well, you're more nervous than the rest of them, so I was pretty nervous over this filly,” Bradley, one of La Renoleta's owners, said Thursday morning. “Steve Asmussen doesn't tell you a lot, but when he tells you he thinks they're pretty nice, the anticipation goes up even more.”
“She's one that caught my eye down in South America,” Bradley said. “It's a hard place to buy horses out of because their Grade 1s in any given year can have as good as a field as anywhere in the world and the next year their Grade 1 winners might be listed horses anywhere else in the world. Based on her times and her performances, she looked like she was one of those special ones.”
Bradley said he began tracking La Renoleta in June and the deal was finalized in September. The Argentine-bred daughter of grass standout Treasure Beach (a Grade 1 winner in the United States and Group 1 winner in Europe) was sent to Asmussen and had a series of workouts at Fair Grounds in advance of her American debut.
“Even though her pedigree kind of said she was turf, all her races have been great on the dirt down there, so we gave her to Steve to see what he could do with her,” Bradley said. “She came up, I think, in September. The South American horses take a while to kind of come around for U.S. racing. There's a transition period there between, just the difference in the Southern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere. You kind of throw them off, photosensitive-wise. They also really don't understand American training, so it takes a while. A lot of those horses down there gallop without a saddle even, if you know how they train. It's quite a change for their temperament and everything. Steve took his time with her and it looks like it's going to pay off.”
Bradley said he's only tried to buy two other South American horses. One private purchase, Chilean-bred Dacita, was a multiple Grade 1 winner in the United States for perennial Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown.
“Right now, it looks like I may have bought two good fillies out of there,” Bradley said.
Bradley said La Renoleta will be considered for Oaklawn's two signature two-turn races for older fillies and mares – $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 14 and the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 18. Both races are 1 1/16 miles.
“Again, the bottom line is Steve makes the call on that,” Bradley said of La Renoleta's racing schedule.
Bradley, in partnership, won the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares last year at Oaklawn with the Asmussen-trained She's a Julie.
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