Splitting horses in deep stretch, Gaillardia Racing's Carib Lady fired past her rivals to score in the $100,000 Gallorette Handicap (gr.IIIT) on Pimlico's yielding turf Saturday.
It was the initial race of the day to be run on the grass.
Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, the 4-year-old filly by Sadler's Wells defeated Affirmed Dancer by a neck.
She bided her time early as Lady Linda and Affirmed Dancer fought for the early advantage in the 8 ½-furlong tilt. Favorite Saranac Lake tracked in third. Up the backstretch, Lady Linda gained a clear advantage with Saranac Lake in close attendance. However, the latter's move stalled, and Carib Lady moved smartly in between the two leaders and drove to the wire in 1:50.69.
Carib Lady is trained by Todd Pletcher and was bred in Ireland by D.P. O'Brien.
"Todd (Pletcher) said to put her behind horses and let her coast along and then let her pick it up," Valenzuela said. "That's exactly what she did."
Pletcher was in New York.
Day, who rode Affirmed Dancer, said, "We were where we thought we would be early. But, we were past the quarter pole before I could get her out for the run to the wire. She put forth a good effort and ran a big race."
Valenzuela, who was scheduled to ride Ten Cents A Shine in the Preakness but was bumped at the last moment in favor of Jerry Bailey, said he was committed to ride Carib Lady and other horses and made the trip east from Southern California.
"It's unfortunate that I had to be put in a spot where I don't get to ride in the Preakness," he said. "It's one of the biggest races in the history of racing. And I've been here before and I've won it before and I know the feeling of what it's like to ride in it and win in it. I'll get another chance one day."
Carib Lady earned her fourth victory from 12 lifetime starts and pushed her earnings above the $120,000 mark. She was graded-stakes placed while racing in France last year.
She returned $14.40, $6.20, and $4.40. Affirmed Dancer held second at $4.20 and $3.20, and Lady of the Future finished third and returned $4.60. The $2 exacta was $64.
The soft turf caused several defections from the Gallorette, as You'll Be Happy, Media Access, Katzen, Riskaverse, Morena Park, and La Belle Simone were all scratched.