Apparently, English-bred Criticism has found the footing on American soil to her liking. The Darley homebred mare, who made her North American debut this past fall, wrapped up her second consecutive graded stakes when taking the $100,000 The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) in front-running fashion Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park.
Racing under Edgar Prado for the first time, Criticism was allowed to coast to an early lead in the 1 3/8-mile turf test, setting easy splits of :24.94, :51.24, 1:17.30 and 1:41.03. The 5-year-old daughter of Machiavellian cruised to a 3 1/2-length advantage at the eighth-pole and was still plenty fresh for the stretch drive, in which she was never seriously challenged. She crossed the wire 2 1/2 lengths in front of Irish-bred Dress Rehearsal. Backseat Rhythm, the lone grade I winner in the field of 13 fillies and mares, finished another 1 3/4 lengths back in third.
The final time on the firm turf was 2:15.23.
“We got in good position and that was pretty much it,” Prado said. “The first quarter was slow and the second quarter was even slower, so I didn’t want to take too much out of her, but it wasn’t anything too tough. It was an easy ride. We galloped most of the way. That’s why she had plenty left.”
Criticism entered the contest off a one-length victory in the 12-furlong Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct Nov. 1, 2008, the first graded score of her career. That effort was just three weeks removed from her American debut, a game runner-up effort in the Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Belmont.
The bay mare raced just those two times as a 4-year-old. She made 12 starts as a sophomore – all in France – with four victories to show for it. She was group III-placed in October of 2007.
Tom Albertrani took over conditioning duties when Criticism was brought to the U.S.
“She’s trained well since she got here,” Albertrani said. “One of her greatest assets over here is that she’ll go a mile-and-a-half and a lot of the others won’t. If all goes well, we’ll bring her back here in the Orchid (gr. III, March 22 at 1 1/2 miles). Hopefully, later this year we can get to win a grade one with her.”
Criticism, out of the Caerleon mare Innuendo, is now 6-5-2 from 15 starts. She has earned $355,367.
Sent off as the favorite, Criticism paid $6, $3.60 and $3. The exacta (9-2) returned $43.40, while the trifecta (9-2-7) netted $167.