Irish-bred Volga, racing in the finest form of her career, registered a convincing 2 3/4-length win Saturday in the $200,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIT) over 1 1/2 miles on the turf at Calder Race Course.
Under aggressive handling by Richard Migliore, the 5-year-old distance specialist seized the lead from Go On Baby in mid-stretch and continued strongly to the wire to hold off a slight challenge from favored Lady Annaliese, who finished 1 1/4 length ahead of 28-1 Lost Appeal. The final time for the 12 furlongs on firm going was 2:26.
Volga was never far off the pace while stalking a solid pace set on the outside of 150-1 shot Victory Snit, who went :48, 1:13 and 1:38 4/5 before quickly giving way. Go On Baby inherited the lead on the turn for home and held the advantage until overtaken by the winner.
"I felt very confident a hundred yards into the race that she was going to be very tough," Migliore said. "I didn't quite expect her to explode as strongly as she did turning for home. She really sprinted for home. I never had to turn my stick over. It was a really, really good feeling."
The New Zealand-bred Lady Annaliese, ridden by Eibar Coa, had to be steadied along the inside entering the final turn and remained in close quarters before finding room in the stretch and out-finishing Lost Appeal, who launched her bid from outside under Rene Douglas.
Volga won her third graded stakes of the year. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the Caerleon mare won the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-I) at Woodbine Oct. 19 and became a millionaire while finishing second, beaten by 1 1/4 length by Spice Island in the Long Island Handicap at 12 furlongs on a yielding Aqueduct sod a month later. She earned $120,000 for owner Joseph Allen while improving her career lines to 7-5-2 in 19 starts with purse earnings of $1,141, 750.
"She's a top filly," McLaughlin said. "Our job is just to keep her healthy and happy, and (race) between the rails. She does the rest. She came to the stable just 12 days before the E.P. Taylor. Christophe (Clement) did a good job getting her ready and she won that race off his training. This may have been an even better race than that one. She's all quality."
Allen said Volga may not be retired to the breeding shed.
"She's a grade one winner turning six years old and you would naturally consider breeding her, but I haven't made that decision yet," he said. "We'll give it some more consideration whether to breed her or race another year."
Allez France Stable in Ireland bred the winner, who is from the dam Verveine (Lear Fan).
The co-second choice in the field of 11 paid $8.20, $4.60 and $4. Lady Annaliese returned $4.20 and $3.20. Lost Appeal's show was $7.40.
They were followed by Go On Baby, Sixty Seconds, New Economy, Mariensky, Pillow Talk, Shining Jewel and Victory Snit. Spice Island, also sent off at 3-1, clipped heels and fell while racing 10th entering the second turn.