Twilite Farms' Gaviola swept by Good Game in the stretch and pulled away to a three-length victory to earn her sixth consecutive win in Sunday's $250,000 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park. Under Jerry Bailey, the William H. Turner Jr. trainee completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.89 to earn her first grade I stakes win.
Windsong and Good Game dueled through an opening quarter-mile run in :23.73 with Gaviola tracking in third, and Flawly trailing. Good Game edged to the lead while slowing the pace, running the half-mile in :48.01, as Windsong shuffled back and Gaviola moved up to press the leader. Gaviola challenged the leader on the second turn, entered the stretch on even terms with the pacesetter, and drew off through the stretch to a decisive victory. Flawly closed well for second, followed by Millie's Quest, Shopping for Love, Julies Love Letter, Good Game, Lucky Lune, and Windsong.
"I thought I would be on the lead but would let someone else go early if they wanted to," said Bailey. "She was a little eager in the Lake Placid (Handicap, gr. II) but had no problem rating today."
Gaviola (Cozzene--Forest Key, by Green Forest) is undefeated since her first start of the year, a third-place finish in the Sweetest Chant Stakes (gr. IIIT) in January at Gulfstream Park. Since then, the 3-year-old filly has won two allowance races, two grade III races, and the Lake Placid Handicap, all on the turf. Her average margin of victory during her six-race win streak is well over 3 1/2 lengths. She earned $150,000 for the win, her seventh in 10 career starts. The 3-year-old filly was bred in Kentucky by Carlos Perez.
Sent off as the prohibitive favorite, Gaviola paid $2.90, $2.70, and $2.10. 31-1 longshot Flawly returned $11.20 and $2.10. Millie's Quest was worth $2.10 to show. The winning exacta combination returned $42.20.
"If she comes out OK, we'll go in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT, Keeneland, Oct. 8)," said Turner. "Right now, I would have to say that to get us to the Breeders' Cup they would have to put a hook around me and drag me there. But times change." (Chart, Equibase