Changing Skies, under patient handling by Kent Desormeaux, picked up her first U.S. stakes win for trainer Bill Mott when she closed with a rush to sweep past upset-minded Nehantic Kat in the $100,000 The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the turf at rainy Gulfstream Park Feb. 27 (VIDEO).
Swettenham Stud's 5-year-old Irish homebred was making her 2010 debut in the 1 3/8-mile test for older fillies and mares, a distance the daughter of Sadler's Wells--Magnificent Style (by Silver Hawk) figured to handle based on her record in France and Great Britain. Her last start resulted in a runner-up finish as the heavy favorite in a nine-furlong allowance race on yielding ground at Keeneland Oct. 24.
Racing off the rail near the rear of a well-packed 13-horse field, Desormeaux allowed Changing Skies to move up on the outside on the final turn. She moved into contention in the stretch as Nehantic Kat, at odds of 14-1 for Joe Bravo, took the lead from Closeout. Third at the eighth pole, Changing Skies continued to close the gap, overtaking the leader in deep stretch to get up for a three-quarters of a length win. Nehantic Kat was 1 1/4 lengths in front of 7-2 favorite Cable, who ran on to get third with Alan Garcia aboard. The final time was 2:16.27 on a course rated "good."
“She gave me a great ride," Desormeaux said. "She was always in the bridle and distributing the confidence to me through the reins. And she was happy with the going. She’s a light filly, and they tend to stay on top of the ground, so she had no problem with the softer surface.”
In My Glory set a solid early pace before giving way, getting the opening half-mile in :49.12, six furlongs in 1:14.92, and the mile in 1:39.59. The field was four across on the final turn before Closeout emerged with the lead, pursued by Nehantic Kat.
Lady Shakespeare, who might have been favored, and Kiawah Cat were scratched. Jessica is Back was entered for the main track only.
Trained in the United Kingdom by Brian Meehan, Changing Skies was second in a group III race at Deauville as a 3-year-old in 2008 but missed much of the 2009 season. After beginning the year with a fourth-place finish in the Middleton Stakes (Eng-III) at York in May, she was transferred to Mott. She won her American debut on a yielding course at Belmont Park in September, defeating a first-level allowance field at nine furlongs as the solid favorite. She now has two wins and a second in her three U.S. races.
“They (Swettenham Stud and owner Ben Sangster) have sent me a number of nice fillies and we’ve been fortunate to win good races for them, including some grade Is," Mott said. "There are more opportunities over here once they get older. I was worried she might get a little rank early breaking from the outside post, but she settled nicely. We’ll definitely consider the Orchid here for her next start (Mar. 28).”
Overall, Changing Skies is 3-3-3 in 12 starts with earnings of $167,549.
Racing under 117 pounds, Changing Skies paid $10, $6, and $4 as the second choice. Nehantic Kat, who has shown a preference for an off-going in her career for Barclay Tagg, returned $12.60 and $6.60 while completing a $140 exacta. Cable was $3.40 to show.
Completing the order: Proud Lisa, Long Approach, Closeout, Morena, Belle Allure, Celtic Princess, Mystic Miracle, Zaskar, Rcuandry, and In My Glory.