Trainer Dallas Stewart played a hot hand Sunday at Keeneland when he wheeled back Molto Vita after only a week's rest to take the $125,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (gr. III) for fillies and mares.
With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Molto Vita broke best from her outside post position in the field of six, soon angled to the inside and held sway under strong handling in the stretch run for a three-quarters of a length victory over 11-10 favorite My Trusty Cat. My Boston Gal finished third, a neck behind the runner-up. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:09 4/5.
Molto Vita, who won her first graded stakes, is clearly at the top of her game. The 4-year-old bay filly ran second in Belmont Park's Gallant Bloom (gr. II) to Lady Tak on Oct. 10. Prior to that, she was fourth behind Lady Tak again in the Ballerina (gr. I), beaten by 1 1/2 lengths. She won two in a row before that, including the Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Handicap Aug. 14.
"Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't," Stewart said of the quick rebound from the Gallant Bloom. "She bounced out of that last race well. So Mr. (owner John) Gunther and I put our heads together and we felt if everything was good this morning, we would go ahead and do it (run). And look what she did."
The daughter of Carson City
bounded away with an swift opening quarter-mile in :22 and was able to clear and cross over as Our Josephina, My Boston Gal and Summer Mis tracked her through a half-mile in :45 3/5. They were crawling home as My Trusty Cat, stalking for Pat Day along the inside into the turn, switched to the outside for her belated stretch run. She was gaining mildly at the end.
Bejarano won his third race of the day.
"My filly broke very, very sharp and even though there were two other speed horses in the race, I was sitting against her all the way," Bejarano said. "She won super-easy."
"The speed got away from us today," Day conceded. "I tried to make a run at the leader but she was a little too tough for us and we couldn't get to her."
Bred in Kentucky by TAC Holding Inc., Molta Vita improved 7-3-0 in her 19 career starts while increasing her earnings to more than $357,410. She won $77,500 for Gunther.
Out of the Danzig
mare Princess Polonia, Molto Vita was a $24,000 Keeneland sale in November 2000.
The second choice in the field, Molto vita paid $7.20, $3 and $2.60. My Trusty Cat returned $2.40 and $2.40. My Boston Gal, ridden by Calvin Borel, was $2.80 to show.
Souris, Our Josephina and Summer Mis completed the order.