Martin S. Schwartz's favored Gorella, last of a compact field at the top of the lane, surged past her rivals on the far outside to win the $750,000 Beverly D. (gr. IT) for fillies and mares by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday on the Arlington Park lawn.
Schwartz's neon orange silks were in the Beverly D. winner's circle in 2005 as well when Angara won the race.
Breaking from the inside under jockey Julien Leparoux, the Patrick Biancone-trained Gorella was able to save ground as the field reached the far turn of the 1 3/16-mile event, when she angled out slightly to get clearance for her robust late run. The 4-year-old French-bred daughter of Grape Tree Road swung to the lead while charging home at the center of the course with less than a furlong to go and won under a hand ride from Leparoux as much the best in a deep Beverly D. field. The final time was 1:53 3/5 on firm going.
"You have to have patience with this filly," said Leparoux, the French riding sensation who earned his first grade I win. "It's the only way to ride her. She's a like a machine. She proved it today."
"(Leparouox) is a very cool guy," noted Biancone, the first trainer to earn back-to-back victories in the Beverly D. "He waited to the last moment and he won the first grade I win of his life. I think he'll remember that his whole life."
Gorella, sent off at 13-10, went over the $1 million in career earnings with her first grade or group I victory and her sixth win overall from 15 starts. With the $450,000 winner's purse, she has now banked $1,208,209. Coming off a neck victory in the one-mile Just A Game Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park June 10, Gorella has won three of six U.S. starts with two thirds since being transferred to Biancone's care last fall.
She also answered critics who felt her best distance was one mile. She ran third against males, beaten less than a length, in last fall's NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Belmont.
"Today, we saw a new part of her game – she can go longer than a mile," Biancone said. "It was a gamble for us but (she) had trained really well. We came, we won and we were the best today."
Film Maker, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, ran second by a half-length with pacesetting Live Life and Victor Espinoza nosing second choice Honey Ryder (John Velazquez) for third. All four top finishers carried 123 pounds.
"I was in traffic the last part, and at one point I had to check, but I can't take anything away from the winner," Dominguez said.
Espinoza credited the French-bred Live Life with running a strong race in spite of losing a shoe on the first turn.
"I could feel it; after that she had a little trouble handling the track," he said.
Live Life set fractions of :23 1/5, :46 4/5 and 1:11 before coming under pressure from Sharp Lisa and Wend on the far turn. She held them off but could not repel the late charge of Film Maker and the deep-closing Gorella. Honey Ryder was well positioned for the stretch run but offered only a mild bid.
"I just don't think this (distance) is her game," Velazquez said. "I had her in perfect position, I thought. She's going a little shorter, so I wanted to put her in a position where she wouldn't get stopped and get the momentum going before the other ones get to her."
Gorella paid $4.60, $3 and $2.40. Film Maker, who had won her last two starts against graded stakes company, returned $3.60 and $3.40. Live Life, a California shipper for Neil Drysdale, was $5.60 to show.
Honey Ryder was followed by, in order, Rich in Spirit, Royal Copenhagen, Sharp Lisa, Wend, Minge Cove and Rising Cross, the lone 3-year-old in the field.