Since taking out her trainer's license in 1999, Queens, N.Y. native Leah Gyarmati has experienced moderate success with a string of horses primarily on the Northeast and Midlantic circuits. But none of her charges have shown near the caliber of talent as Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) victor Sweet Reason.
"I always thought she was a special filly, mostly because of her demeanor," said Gyarmati during a National Thoroughbred Racing Association media teleconference Oct. 1. The juvenile daughter of Street Sense will be tested next in the Oct. 5 Frizette Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park, a major prep for the Nov. 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). "She's a very classy filly; she does everything you ask her to do exactly the way you ask her to do it."
Gyarmati, who started galloping horses for trainer Allen Jerkens upon completing high school, worked a two-year stint as a jockey before shifting her focus to training. Sweet Reason is not only her first grade I winner, but also her initial graded stakes victor as a trainer.
"(Winning the Spinaway) was a little bit surreal...it was my first graded stakes win period, so it was exciting," said Gyarmati. "Being at Saratoga where all eyes are on you was doubly exciting. But honestly a lot of it is just a release because I know (owner) Jeff Treadway has put a lot of time, money, and patience into this.
"I was relieved that finally one of his horses came through with no bumps or hitches...(Sweet Reason) just went straight through and did all the right things. I was relieved and happy for Jeff because he deserved it," Gyarmati said of Treadway, a private investor who has sent horses to her for the past five years.
Gyarmati helped Treadway select Sweet Reason at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale. Bred in Kentucky by Brent Harris, Beth Harris, and Darley, the filly was acquired for $185,000 from Bettersworth Westwind Farm, agent.
While Gyarmati was initially impressed by Sweet Reason's pedigree and conformation, the filly didn't give standout performances during morning workouts.
"We didn't ask her to breeze and all of a sudden she was whipping up these great times and you were amazed by her...she just does exactly what you ask of her--nothing more, nothing less," said Gyarmati.
Sweet Reason, who is out of the stakes-placed Mt. Livermore mare Livermore Leslie, is a half sister to grade III winner Don't Forget Gil.
"I thought she was a really good filly, but I wasn't sure how good, because she never really came out and showed her cards until she broke her maiden," Gyarmati said.
Sweet Reason won that 5 1/2-furlong contest at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 9 in come-from-behind fashion by 6 1/4 lengths, and then followed up with her 5 1/4-length triumph in the Spinaway. She most recently posted a bullet work at Belmont when she covered four furlongs in :47.98 Oct. 1.
If Belmont has a dry track on Frizette day, it will be a test of versatility for Sweet Reason, as both of her previous efforts were achieved over sloppy surfaces.
"She's such an intelligent filly and she knows what she's supposed to do," said Gyarmati. "As long as she's fit, she's going to perform and do her best."
To advance to the Breeders' Cup, Sweet Reason doesn't necessarily need to win the Frizette, but she needs to run well and prove she can handle the Belmont surface, whether sloppy or dry. Gyarmati is convinced it won't be a problem for her rising star.
"I feel very confident in this filly, her numbers are very good," she said. "I'm not saying she's going to beat everybody or anybody, I just know she's going to give you 100%. That's all I can ask for.
"It's going to be a good group of horses, obviously very competitive," she continued of the field, to include Spinaway runner up Stopchargingmaria. "Some of them she's already run against, some she hasn't seen yet. I have utmost respect of all the other fillies in there. It will be a good race no matter what."