Despite a 394-day layoff and matching strides with the multiple Grade 2 winner Curlin's Approval, Alpha Delta Stable's Lewis Bay returned an impressive winner Saturday when taking the $100,000 Rampart (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Lewis Bay hadn't raced since winning the Comely (G2) at Aqueduct in November of last year. But the 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini looked anything like she needed a race, taking it to Curlin's Approval and driving away to a 1 ¼-length victory while covering the mile in 1:36.14. Curlin's Approval finished in second, 3 ¼-lengths in front of Nonna Mela.
“It's not easy to do…13 months and running against a really good filly who was second there,” said Brown, who said Lewis Bay was beset with minor injuries throughout the year but none at the same time. “All the patience paid off. We always had the right people caring for her.”
Lewis Bay, a two-time Grade 2 winner and runner-up in last year's Mother Goose (G2), broke alertly from the three post while Curlin's Approval left from the rail in the seven-horse field under jockey Luis Saez. After taking the field past a :23.96 quarter, Ortiz allowed Saez to take the lead along the rail through a :46.59 half before Lewis Bay carried Ortiz back to the front around the turn and remained there to the wire.
Brown said he figured Lewis Bay, who has won five of 11 starts and has place first or second in nine of her races, would be sharp.
“She had been training so sharp the last couple weeks, wanting to run,” Brown said. “As a team we said in the paddock if she breaks really sharp take it to the favorite.”
“I had a pretty good trip,” Ortiz said. “She was coming off a long layoff and I didn't want to be too aggressive out of there but she broke sharp. Chad told me not to take anything away from her if she can get it easy, so I just let her break and be wherever she was comfortable. When I asked her she was there for me. She responded really good.”
Brown said the plan is for Lewis Bay to stay in training throughout the year.
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