Commercante overtook favored Punctilious in deep stretch to win the $607,500 E.P. Taylor (Can-I) for fillies and mares at foggy, showery Woodbine Sunday for her first North American stakes victory.
Trained by Bobby Frankel, the French-bred Commercante was ridden to victory by John Velazquez. The 4-year-old daughter of Marchand de Sable-Deception (Tropular) was coming off a narrow second-place finish to Riskaverse in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Oct. 2. Velasquez rode her in the Flower Bowl and said that helped this time.
"I learned that she needs to be farther back," said Velazquez. "The last time when I rode her there was no pace. I couldn't really get behind horses. Today, she broke a little slow, was covered up and she came right off the bridle and kind of made it easier for me to not be fighting with her."
Punctilious, the 11-10 choice ridden by Frankie Dettori, withstood objections from the riders of both Samando and Mona Rose to retain her runner-up position. Classic Stamp piloted by Patrick Husbands, flew late to finish third in the 1 1/4-mile turf event contested on good turf. The time of the race was 2:04.
Commercante, held up by Velazquez near the rear of the eight-horse field while saving ground, unleashed her late kick on the far outside after Punctilious had taken over from Mona Rose near the eighth pole. She pulled even in the final sixteenth and edged away to win by a half-length. Punctilious, who drifted inward after taking the lead briefly, forced Mona Rose to take up. Brice Blanc, aboard fourth-place finisher Samando, also claimed foul. Classic Stamp made up much ground late to miss second by a neck, running out of real estate while finishing best of all.
"She would have had to be supplemented (to next Saturday's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf)," explained Frankel. "I'm not a big believer in supplementing, for a lot of money, to be honest with you. We had this race. It was good enough money, only $250,000 less than the Breeders' Cup.
"(Velazquez) was riding a good race and saved ground around the turn when they came out in the straight. She's got a very good turn of foot, so I really wasn't concerned when he whipped her out. I knew we had plenty of horse. In the middle of the stretch, she looked like she was hanging but then it might have been my eyes deceiving me. But she finished really well."
Frankel and Velazquez have enjoyed success before at Woodbine. Four years ago, they teamed up to win the Atto Mile (Can-I) with Riviera.
A group III winner in a 10-furlong test at Deauville in August 2003, Commercante had only an allowance victory in her United States debut at Belmont May 29 since then. After a ninth-place finish on firm going in the Beverly D. (gr. IT) Aug. 14, Commercante bounced back strongly in the Flower Bowl.
Irish-bred Ometsz, who shipped from France and was ridden by Edgar Prado, established the early lead over Heyahohowdy while clicking off fractions of :26, :50 4/5 and 1:15 2/5. But as they came off the turn, she gave way to Mona Rose, who completed the mile in front in 1:40.
Commercante earned $364,500 (U.S.) with her fourth win in 13 career efforts, increasing her bankroll to $624,291.
The second favorite in the field, she paid $7.10, $3 and $2.60. Punctilious returned $2.50 and $2.20. Classic Stamp's show was $3.30.
Mona Rose settled for fifth, followed by Asti, Ometsz and Heyahohowdy. Dimatrova and Inish Glora scratched.