Tracking the pacesetter Farrell up to the far turn in Friday's Grade 1 La Troienne, Gary Barber, Chester Prince and Baccari Racing Stable's Salty appeared to drop out of the contest. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione continued to save all the ground at the rail, however, and the 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road re-rallied in the stretch to earn her first Grade 1 victory. Trained by Mark Casse, the 4-1 chance Salty covered 1 1/16 miles over Churchill Downs' fast main track in 1:43.78. The 3-5 favorite Abel Tasman, last year's Kentucky Oaks winner, wound up finishing fourth.
“She's just an extremely talented filly, as I've said a few times,” said Casse. “She's gotten unlucky before. Today, everything worked out well for her. I think Tyler (Gaffalione) is an up-and-coming star, as does Gary Barber, so we've kind of stuck with Tyler and it's paid off, because he knows her so well. After his last race he was a little disappointed and he said 'We're going to win a Grade One' and I said 'I know we will,' and we have faith, and he rode a great race today.”
As expected, Farrell broke sharply and went straight to the lead. She did bear out just a bit at the start, slightly impeding Abel Tasman, but was quickly four lengths clear of the rest of the field. Farrell led through steady fractions of :24.70 and :48.86, tracked by Salty at the rail and Streamline at the outside. Martini Glass was close up fourth, while Abel Tasman was tracking from fifth.
Approaching the far turn, Farrell's lead had diminished to a single length as Salty and Martini Glass began to close the gap. Martini Glass made a big move as she rounded into the straight, but Farrell bounded away by two lengths at the top of the lane. Gaffalione had delayed his rally on Salty at the rail, and gave her her cue at the quarter pole. Salty fought down the length of the stretch, and in the final sixteenth of a mile was able to get past a tiring Farrell.
“She really responded,” Gaffalione gushed. “As soon as the spot opened up on the turn, I just put her there and she really exploded. I had to keep after her, but she was running. It is my first (Grade I win). I'm speechless. It's very exciting, especially on this stage.”
Salty passed under the wire about 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Farrell, while Martini Glass checked in third. Abel Tasman was relegated to fourth in her first start off the layoff.
“It was her first race back,” jockey Mike Smith said of Abel Tasman. “She made a nice move around the turn and just got tired through the lane. It was just the way the race set up. I really wish the other pace wouldn't have scratched out of there. That really turned the race into a sprint for home. We weren't expecting that, of course, and once the scratches came out, being that it was her first race back, I didn't want to get really aggressive with her early and have her get tired late. I was just gambling, hoping I was a whole lot the best, but those are just nice mares and I underestimated them a little bit. In saying that, though, I'm sure she got a lot out of the race and she'll come back very well. That race didn't set up at all for her.”
Bred in Kentucky by Seclusive Farm and Prince Farm, Salty is out of the winning Dixie Union mare Theycallmeladyluck. She won the Gulfstream Park Oaks last season to earn a spot in the Kentucky Oaks, but wound up finishing fifth to Abel Tasman. A year later, Salty turned the tables on that rival to triumph in the La Troienne, bringing her career record to 4-2-2 from 11 starts, with earnings of just under $700,000.
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