A talented field of 10, led by Chester and Mary Broman's homebred Pauseforthecause, will line up for the second edition of the $100,000 La Verdad on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the well-bred Giant's Causeway bay out of the multiple graded stakes placed Spritely has enjoyed a career year in a 4-year-old campaign that includes $178,693 in purse earnings from a record of 3-1-4 in nine starts. She will be seeking her first stakes win in Saturday's seven-furlong test for New York-bred fillies and mares 4-years-old and up over the Big A main track.
After breaking her maiden on August 4, 2017 at Saratoga Race Course, it was a full year, and 10 starts, before Pauseforthecause had her picture taken again when victorious in an off-the-turf allowance sprint at Saratoga on August 17. That victory started a good stretch that includes a romping 5 1/4-length win in a September 14 optional claiming tilt at Belmont Park; a strong third in the Iroquois, defeated just a length by the in-form Highway Star; and a last out allowance win from off-the-pace on December 8 at Aqueduct.
McLaughlin attributed much of her recent success to the treatment of a minor ailment that provided a major impact.
“We had a bit of a wind issue that we took care of, not a big surgery, but we took care of a wind issue and it has helped her a lot. It was taken care of before she started winning, and she didn't miss any time. We also got her back on the dirt going shorter. We thought because of her pedigree she'd be turf, but she's better on the dirt,” said McLaughlin. “She's doing really well right now and we think she belongs in this race and has a very good chance.”
Pauseforthecause has breezed twice since her recent score including a three-panel effort in 36.22 seconds over the Belmont training track on Monday morning.
“She's trained well out of that race and worked very well here this morning, just a little easy three-eighths, but she's doing very well,” said McLaughlin.
Rajiv Maragh, aboard for the most recent score, retains the mount from post 10.
With the calendar ready to flip to a New Year, McLaughlin said he is pleased with the results of a 2018 campaign led by early season stable star Enticed, who took the Grade 3 Gotham ahead of a runner-up effort in the Wood Memorial. The McLaughlin stable also scored at a scintillating 47 percent clip at Saratoga, with 11 wins from 38 starts.
“We had a very good year with wins, and our clients were happy, and that's the main thing,” said McLaughlin. “We had a really good meet at Saratoga, with not so many runners, winning at a high percentage doing well with main-track onlys. Obviously, Enticed winning the Gotham was a big race for him.”
To start the New Year on the right foot, Pauseforthecause will have to topple a formidable La Verdad field that includes a pair of Chad Brown-trained stakes winners in Sunset Ridge and Kathryn the Wise.
The 5-year-old chestnut was perfect in four starts last season, including a 6 1/4-length score in the Fleet Indian on August 25 at Saratoga. She returned off a long layoff to be second to La Verdad rival Satisfy in an optional claiming mile on November 17 at Aqueduct and returned at the same level last time out to finish a forwardly-placed third. Jose Lezcano will pilot Sunset Ridge for the first time from post 7.
The 6-year-old Kathryn the Wise, a Lawrence Goichman homebred daughter of Uncle Mo, is also lightly raced, with three wins from just five career starts.
The wins, which came in spectacular fashion, include a 5 1/2-length maiden victory on November 25, 2016; a 12-length romp in an April 5, 2017 Aqueduct allowance and an 8 1/4-length victory in the Critical Eye on May 29, 2017 over a sloppy Belmont main track. Through two starts in 2018, the bay has finished fourth and second in a pair of optional claiming sprints. Manny Franco will have his first call on Kathryn the Great from post 3.
Dream Maker Racing's Satisfy, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, boasts a perfect in-the-money career record of five wins and two seconds from seven starts, all in 2018. The 5-year-old daughter of Candy Ride is a neck loss to Highway Star in the Iroquois away from a 5-race win streak.
The talented bay launched a three-race win streak on July 28 in a Saratoga allowance sprint and followed that up with a pair of sprint wins at Belmont in the fall. After being last of eight at first call in the Iroquois, Satisfy rallied five wide to complete the exacta behind Highway Star while keeping Pauseforthecause in her rearview. She came out of the Iroquois to defeat Sunset Ridge in an optional claimer at Aqueduct. Junior Alvarado, aboard for all seven career starts, will guide Satisfy from post 9.
Completing the field are Silly Sister, in post 4 with Dylan Davis up for trainer Jeremiah Englehart; Starlite Mission, from post 2 under Chis DeCarlo for trainer Gary Contessa; Byself, out of post 8 under David Cohen for Michelle Nevin; Playinwiththeboys in post 5 for Reylu Gutierrez and Charlton Baker; Out of Orbit in post 1 for jockey Eric Cancel and trainer Philip Serpe; and Palladian Bridge from post 6 for trainer Raymond Handal and rider Sheldon Russell.
The La Verdad is slated as Race 8 on Saturday's 9-race card. First post time is 12:25 p.m.
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