The stout West Coast shipper Indyanne, unbeaten and untried in four prior starts, had never trailed at any call. But the 2-5 choice got into trouble immediately in the six-furlong test for 3-year-old fillies when she lunged at the start and broke last in the six-horse field.
Rushed up after steadying and switching to the rail for jockey Russell Baze, Indyanne got the lead from the outsider, J Z Warrior. But with the challenger breathing down her neck all the way, Indyanne was vulnerable in upper stretch as 11-1 shot Porte Bonheur and Ramon Dominguez roared into contention. With both jockeys asking their mounts for all they had, Porte Bonheur, on the outside, reached even terms and edged ahead approaching the sixteenth pole. Porte Bonheur, under a heavy drive, prevailed in the final 50 yards over a game Indyanne. The winning time was 1:09.51.
Porte Bonheur was steadied briefly on the backstretch when fifth before rallying between horses with a quarter-mile to go. Indyanne's quarter-mile fractions were :22.13 and :45 flat.
“I was pleased with the way she relaxed and the pace they were setting," Dominguez said. "I wasn’t certain we were going to get up, but I liked my chances and she showed a lot of heart.”
A 3-year-old daughter of Hennessy out of the Shadeed mare Sous Entendu trained by David Duggan, Porte Bonheur had the benefit of a race over the Saratoga main track, winning the Flanders Stakes Aug. 2 by two lengths in a stalking style similar to what she displayed here. The Victory Ride was the chestnut filly's first graded win.
"She has proven that she is legitimate," said Duggan, who is enjoying a solid Saratoga meet. "I was nervous when I saw Indyanne still there. I knew we were doing good, but I was afraid of her."
Duggan said Porte Bonheur would be pointed to the 6 1/2-furlong Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) against older fillies and mares at Belmont Park Sept. 20.
Bred in Kentucky by Gainsborough Farm, Porte Bonheur was a $250,000 Keeneland September yearling sale buy in 2006. Her fourth victory in seven starts was worth $66,060 to owner Johanna Murphy-Leopoldsberger and increased the filly's lifetime earnings to $203,366.
The unfortunate runner-up Indyanne, trained by Greg Gilchrist of Lost in the Fog fame, was an impressive 9 1/2-length winner of Calder's Azaela (gr. III) in her last outing July 12. Her four victories have come by a total of 32 1/2 lengths.
Gilchrist took the filly's first loss in stride.
“I’m not going to take anything away from the winner – she ran a heck of a race," Gilchrist said. "But I think the start cost us a neck. Russell had a choice. He could sit there, but the fence opened up and he went ahead and let her run. That’s just horse racing. That’s the way it comes up sometimes.”
Informed Decision, making her first start since April 11 at Keeneland for trainer Jonathan Sheppard, edged Palanka City by a half-length for third, three lengths behind Indyanne.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Porte Bonheur paid $24.60, $5.80, and $3.20, topping a $2 exacta worth $57 over Indyanne, who returned $2.70 and $2.10. Informed Decision was $3.10 to show.
Palanka City was followed by J Z Warrior and Sly Storm.
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