Fox Ridge Farm's Riskaverse, winless in seven previous starts at 10 furlongs, made a bold move in the stretch to win the $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) on a yielding turf at Belmont Park Saturday.
Riskaverse, a 5-year-old Dynaformer
mare who is often in the hunt but seldom takes the brass ring for trainer Patrick Kelly and Peter Schiff's Fox Ridge Farm, had her day when even-money favorite Wonder Again faded in the stretch. Cornelio Velasquez guided Riskaverse to a three-quarters of a length victory in a time of 2:04 3/5.
"After all the tough trips she's had, it's neat to get her back into the winners' circle for a big race," said winning trainer Pat Kelly, who saddled Christiecat to a Flower Bowl victory for Fox Ridge in 1992.
"I haven't picked out too many easy spots for her, but she has been up to the task. It's amazing because it took us two times to win it with Christiecat, so it is neat to try it again and get it the second time. I would imagine, she will head off soon to be a mommy, but she is still very competitive. Maybe we can hang around for another year."
He said the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) is a possibility.
"Unfortunately, (it) is at a mile and three-eighths this year. We've been a little leery of the longer races. But the way she ran today, and with maturity, we could try it."
Commercante, who rallied to get the lead in deep stretch for John Velazquez, settled for second by a head, with pacesetter Moscow Burning, ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., finishing third, aneck in front of Film Maker.
Moscow Burning was allowed to crawl through fractions of :25 2/5 and :52 2/5, and when she punched in for Valdivia coming off the far turn, she had plenty left for the stretch drive. Wonder Again, with Edgar Prado in the irons and carrying top weight of 123 pounds, and Commercante both rallied on the outside at the top of the stretch, but only Commercante persevered.
Riskaverse, back in the pack while racing wide but never far off the pace, kicked in late and swept past the leaders to win by about a length.
Riskaverse, a fifth-generation home bred, had lost four in row this year since taking the Cardinal Handicap (gr. III) in December. She was coming off a game second-place showing in the Beverly D. (gr. IT) at Arlington Park on Aug. 14 to Crimson Palace, losing by a half-length. She was second in Saratoga's Diana Handicap (gr. IT) to Wonder Again prior to that. Yet she was overlooked by the bettors at odds of 8-1.
While picking up a winning share of $450,000, she improved her record to 8-6-4 in 26 starts with earnings of $1,717,706.
Riskaverse paid $19.40, $7.10 and $4.60. The Bobby Frankel-trained Commercante returned $4.70 and $3.90 while completing a $73.50 exacta. Moscow Burning, who wired the Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) in May in her only other start at Belmont Park, was $4.60 to show.
"I thought the course caught up to her speed," said Moscow Burning's trainer, James Cassidy. "It was much more yielding than it was in the Sheepshead Bay. Still, she tried to come back in the final strides to catch Frankel's horse (Commercante). She's tough. I'm going to talk to the owners about sending her to the Breeders' Cup. I cannot see why she shouldn't go, especially since we were considering it before the race."
Film Maker finished a head in front of Aubonne, followed by Wonder Again, Humaita and Indy Five Hundred.
"I have no excuse," said Edgar Prado, Wonder Again's jockey. "There was a slow pace and we were right there. She hung in there at the half-mile pole. She felt fine at the three-eighths pole, and I thought I would have an extra gear at the top of the stretch. But I didn't. It happens sometimes."