Front-running La Verdad left her rivals behind leaving the turn en route to her initial graded stakes win, a 3 3/4-length romp in the $200,000 Distaff Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack April 19 (VIDEO).
The New York-bred 4-year-old daughter of Yes It's True sped immediately to the front from her rail post in the field of seven older fillies and mares. The 2-1 favorite was never headed, completing the six-furlong dash in 1:09.10 on a fast track with Jose Ortiz aboard.
Multiple graded stakes winner Kauai Katie, making her first start in nearly nine months, rallied for second, with the closing My Pal Chrisy third.
La Verdad became the second straight New York-bred winner of the Distaff following Cluster of Stars' handy score last year. The winning bay filly is trained by Linda Rice for Lady Sheila Stable. Eklektikos Stable bred La Verdad out of the Hook and Ladder mare Noble Fire.
"I love that horse, and New York loves that horse," said winning owner Sheila 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."
Ortiz let La Verdad loose on the turn while traveling easily slightly off the rail following swift quarter mile fractions of :22.26 and :44.93. She put her rivals away to open a four-length lead in the drive, reaching the furlong mark in :56.66, and remained in command to the wire under steady handling.
"She was very relaxed," said Ortiz. "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 has done a great job with her."
Second choice Kauai Katie, off to slow start, picked up the chase on the turn but was never a threat under John Velazquez while securing the place spot by 1 1/4 lengths over My Pal Chrisy. The latter mare finished willingly after trailing the field at the quarter pole under Junior Alvarado. Munnings Sister was fourth, followed by Lion D N A, Miss d'Oro, and Bridgehampton.
Byron Hughes, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, said Stonestreet Stables' Kauai Katie ran a creditable race in her first start since finishing sixth in the Prioress Stakes (gr. I) last summer at Saratoga Race Course.
"If she had broken a little more sharply she could have been a little more forwardly placed," Hughes said. "But it was definitely a good effort coming off the long layoff."
La Verdad ran second in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) in her only prior graded stakes try Feb. 22 at Laurel Park. The speedy filly was coming off her first stakes score as the odds-on pick over state-breds in Aqueduct's Broadway Stakes March 29 on a sloppy track.
The Distaff win, worth $120,000, was La Verdad's seventh in nine lifetime races and extended her earnings to $426,700.
Carrying 115 pounds, La Verdad paid $6, $3.40, and $2.50 while topping a $27.80 exacta with 120-pound highweight Kauai Katie, who returned $4.20 and $2.60. My Pal Chrisy, scratched for this spot from the Sugar Maple Stakes presented by CANTER Mid-Atlantic Stakes Saturday night at Hollywood Casno at Charles Town Races, paid $2.30 to show.