Eclipse Awards: Older Female: Riboletta

Eclipse Awards: Older Female: Riboletta
Photo: Benoit & Associates
Riboletta, older female Eclipse Award winner.
Riboletta's pedigree

Given her sterling record in 2000, Riboletta qualifies not only for her Eclipse Award for top older female, but for a "comeback of the year" award. The Brazilian-bred mare owned by Aaron and Marie Jones has won 13 career starts, seven of them in 2000. Now a 6-year-old, Riboletta began her racing career in 1997 as a 2-year-old in her native Brazil. The daughter of Roi Normand--Joy Valley made six starts, but didn't win until her final start of the season. Yet, as she would prove later in her career, Riboletta can't be discounted even when she has a mediocre year.

In 1998, as a 3-year-old, Riboletta won four of five starts. Her record was more than enough to earn her a ticket to the United States. Riboletta won an allowance event in her 3-year-old debut and then finished second in the Grande Premio Joao Adhemar E Nelson De Almeida Prado (Brz-III). She next won the group II Grande Premio Carlos Telles E Carlos Gilberto Da Rocha Faria and the group I Grande Premio Diana (Brazilian Oaks). Riboletta completed her campaign with a win in the Grande Premio Mariano Procopio (Brz-III).

Riboletta's first year in the States, 1999, mirrored that of her 2-year-old season. She won one of six starts, but in her final start of the year, Riboletta finished a decent third behind Manistique and Snowberg in the Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park. It was a sign of good things to come.

Though Riboletta ended her 2000 campaign with a seventh-place finish as the odds-on choice in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, she won seven of 11 races (her record on the dirt was seven for nine). Five of the victories came in grade I events: the Beldame Stakes and the Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park, the Vanity and Milady Breeders' Cup Handicaps at Hollywood Park, and the Santa Margarita International Handicap at Santa Anita Park. She also threw in wins in the grade II Clement L. Hirsch and Hawthorne Handicaps for good measure.

The Hirsch at Del Mar was Riboletta's fourth consecutive victory, but it wasn't until her trip to New York that she was considered more than a California freak. Her 7 1/2-length Ruffian tally (1 1/16 miles in 1:40.35) was an eye-catcher as well as a sizzler.

"She's very special," trainer Eduardo Inda told The Blood-Horse after Riboletta cruised to victory in the Ruffian. "We've done some things different with her. The people who had her in Brazil called me after I got her and said she had to be trained a little differently than the way she had been. We've taken it slow with her."

About a month later--a race about every 30 days proved a key to her success in 2000--Riboletta won the Beldame and in the process defeated Beautiful Pleasure, last year's Eclipse Award winner and a fellow finalist in 2000 as well. Riboletta earned $1,384,860 in 2000 and late in the year was retired to Taylor Made Farms, where she is scheduled to be bred to Forestry.

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