In a successful return to the Sunshine State, Lady Lara engaged longshot Pink Poppy off the far turn and took command in mid-stretch to deliver a 1 1/4-length victory Nov. 21 in the $100,000 My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf at Gulfstream Park West. Watch Video
While Saturday's effort marked the first ever start at Gulfstream Park West for Swettenham Stud's Lady Lara, in her previous Florida start the 4-year-old Excellent Art filly won the Honey Fox Stakes (gr. IIT) in March on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Saturday's victory marked Lady Lara's first win since that effort, ending a five-race skid—although she did add a pair of grade III placings during that stretch.
Trained by Bill Mott and guided to victory by Jose Lezcano, Lady Lara completed the 1 1/16-mile My Charmer in 1:43.32. Mott said Lady Lara shipped so well to Florida off her third-place finish in the Oct. 17 Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park, that the Racing Hall of Fame trainer opted to start her in the My Charmer.
"The timing from her last race worked out well. We shipped her down here and we weren't sure if we were going to run her," Mott said. "She took the ship well and seemed like she looked good and was training good, so we decided to go ahead and run."
Early on Lady Lara saved some ground under Lezcano while tracking from third or fourth behind early leader Pink Poppy, who registered a half-mile in :49.74 and six furlongs in 1:13.31.
Lady Lara, the 8-5 favorite, and Al Shaqab Racing's Sandiva, the 9-5 second choice under Javier Castellano, raced alongside one another for much of the race with Sandiva to the outside of Lady Lara. But when Lady Lara made her move off the turn, Sandiva couldn't keep up and would settle for third.
"After we got around the first turn, it was great. She got around the first turn in good order, and she got a good post," Mott said. "She's been unlucky if you look back, where she's drawn the 13 and 14 hole several times. Today she was able to get an inside post so she could at least try to save a little ground around the first turn."
Lezcano said he didn't think he'd be as close early but he liked the positioning.
"I had a very good trip. I broke good and she took me to a good spot right away," Lezcano said. "I was closer than I was supposed to be on paper but she did it so easily. When I asked her, she took off and won the race."
Favorite Lady Lara returned $5.20 to win, $3.20 place, and $2.20 to show. In a three-way photo for second, Hope Cross edged third-place Sandiva and fourth-place Lori's Store. Hope Cross returned $7.40 to place and $4.20 to show while second-choice Sandiva returned $2.60 to show.
Bred in Ireland by Shanty Syndicate, Lady Lara is out of the Selkirk mare Shanty.