Lady's First: Ventura Wins the Woodbine Mile
Ventura became the first female to win the Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) (VIDEO) in 13 years when she swept past the field on the outside to post a one-length victory in the $954,742 event on Sept. 20.
“Definitely, the soft ground hurt her chances (last year)," Gomez said. "She's got such a beautiful turn of foot, and on the soft ground she was not able to show that explosive move like you saw today. It takes away from her a little bit. To come off layoff, and to do what she did today, she is a tremendous mare.”
Ventura, a Juddmonte Kentucky homebred who is out of the Be My Guest mare Estala, had not raced since finishing second by a head to Informed Decision in Keeneland's Madison Stakes (gr. I) April 9. She ran twice prior to that this season, capturing Santa Anita's seven-furlong Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) on Pro-Ride in January and running second by a nose to Gio Ponti in the one-mile Frank Kilroe Handicap (gr. IT) on the Santa Anita turf March 7.
“Great credit to Bobby (Frankel) and all the crew, and having her ready of her layoff," said Garrett O'Rourke, Juddmonte's farm manager. "She is one of (Frankel's) very favorites. She is a super mare, she is so full of spit and vinegar, and she came here today, and went one better than (last year)."
“She did everything so well, I didn’t really have to get into her so hard," Gomez said. "I squeezed her, but, I didn’t even use the whip on her today, to encourage her anymore than what she was doing. She went by so fast, and she did quite impressively.”
Ventura earned $562,440 for the victory, boosting her career bankroll to $2,221,910. Since arriving in North America from England in late 2007, Ventura has won six of 11 starts, including three grade I races, and hasn't been worse than third. She has proven her versatility over both grass and synthetic surfaces.
O'Rourke said a return to the Breeders' Cup is likely for Ventura, although probably not the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). The Woodbine Mile is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, earning her a spot in the BC Mile.
“The plan was always to go back in to try to win a second filly sprint, and obviously we will sit down and discuss that," he said. "I think that they will have to bring their running shoes, to try to beat her in that same race. She loves that track.”
It was the third Mile win for Frankel, who also trained Riviera, winner of the 2000 edition and favored Leroidesanimaux, who easily captured the 2005 renewal.
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