Pure Clan overtook Criticism in the final furlong to register a convincing 2 3/4-length win in the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) (VIDEO) at foggy, soggy Belmont Park Oct. 3.
Ridden to victory over the inner turf course by Julien Leparoux, Lewis Lakin's homebred Pure Clan rebounded from a third-place finish in the Beverly D. (gr. IT) at Arlington Park in her last start for trainer Bob Holthus.
Criticism, who tracked pacesetter Leamington in second the entire way, took over in upper stretch but had to settle for second. Queen of Hearts finished third. The winning time for the 1 1/4-mile event was a slow 2:12.43 on a course rated "soft."
Favored Dynaforce, looking to defend her win in last year's Flower Bowl, tired in the stretch and finished sixth.
Pure Clan, a 4-year-old daughter of Pure Prize out of the General Assembly mare Gather The Clan, could be headed to the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 6 at Santa Anita, a race she finished 10th in last year. It is the only out-of-the-money showing in her 15-race career.
“She ran a great race," Holthus said, giving no indication of his immediate plans for Pure Clan. "I’m glad it’s over. She showed more speed today than normal. She was in the race all the way.”
Pure Clan raced in fifth as Leamington went to the front and slogged through fractions of :26.81, :53.81, and 1:20.43 with Criticism and Queen of Hearts pressing the leader. Dynaforce rated in fourth along the inside for seven furlongs, but she fell back after making a brief rally at the quarter pole as Pure Clan and Great Britain invader Moneycantbuymelove moved into striking position in third and fourth.
Criticism, ridden by Javier Castellano, had dead aim on the leader in upper stretch and grabbed a clear advantage to the eighth pole, but failed to hold off Pure Clan, who wore down Criticism late and drew off under strong urging from Leparoux.
"She ran well today," Leparoux said. "We wanted her behind the pace so she would make a big run at the end. The turf course was really soft, and she had to work hard at it in the stretch. Still, she got the job done."
Criticism finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Queen of Hearts, who finished willingly after dropping back on the turn and splitting rivals in upper stretch.
Trainer Tom Albertrani said he was "pleased" with Criticism's effort and he would consider starting her in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
"She came back to her previous races [and] found her best stride," he said. "We were really happy with the way she had been coming into this race since she was training so well. Today, she fired her shot. She is definitely better going longer."
Second choice Moneycantbuymelove, who made a five-wide move in the turn for jockey Jamie Spencer to close in on the leaders, tired to fourth. She was followed by Leamington, Dynaforce, and Irish import Beauty O' Gwaun.
Pure Clan, winner of the American Oaks (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park in 2008, has raced four times this season, winning twice. She captured the Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Arlington by 2 1/2 lengths prior to disappointing in the Beverly D. as the 3-2 choice. Her career mark now stands at 8-3-3 in 15 races, and she boosted her earnings to $1,627,498 with the Flower Bowl's winning share of $360,000.
Sent off as the third choice, Pure Clan carried 121 pounds and paid $7.20, $3.50, and $2.50, topping a $2 exacta of $72. Criticism, a three-time graded stakes winner this year, was overlooked at 10-1 and returned $7.80 and $4.10. Queen of Hearts, the longest shot on the board at 27-1, was $7.10 to show.
Carribean Sunset, part of a Christophe Clement-trained entry, was scratched.