Favored Proviso came from well off the pace to win the $400,000 Abu Dhabi First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) (VIDEO) by a half-length for her fourth consecutive grade I victory Oct. 9 at Keeneland.
Juddmonte Farms' standout 5-year-old Dansili mare earned a berth in the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs with the victory. But due to Proviso's distance limitations, trainer Bill Mott has indicated a preference for going against males and Goldikova in the $2 million TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) a day later.
Mike Smith, aboard Proviso, had only one horse, Gotta Have Her, beaten as the field of nine hit the homestretch. Swinging wide for the drive rounding the bend of the one-mile event, Proviso powerfully reeled in her rivals down the lane, overtaking the leading C. S. Silk close to home.
“I knew she was in with a shot, but I knew she’d have to do some running to do it," Mott said of the stretch run. "Mike got her out clear. The last eighth of a mile she was in high gear and got the job done. A beautiful mare. She’s been good from the beginning of the year ‘til right now. That’s four grade I (wins) this year, and she’s as good as they get.”
During her streak, Proviso has clicked off grade I victories in the Frank Kilroe Mile Handicap against males, the Just A Game Stakes and the Diana Stakes.
C. S. Silk took second by a nose with fast-closing Gotta Have Her taking third. The final time was 1:34.81 over firm going.
Garrett O'Rourke, representing Juddmonte Farms, was noncommittal on which way to go in the Breeders' Cup.
“She ran against Goldikova in France and wasn’t able to handle her then (finishing third to her in the group I Prix Rothschild in 2009)," he said. "It’s a year later. It’s our home turf. I don’t know. It’s obviously going to be up entirely to what Bill (Mott) recommends and what (Juddmonte owner) Prince Khaled wants to do.”
West Hope set the early pace in the First Lady with second choice Wasted Tears, racing at the center of the course, in second for a half-mile before Wasted Tears took over on the final turn and led into the stretch. Fractions were a sensible :23.92, :47.54 and 1:11.75.
Wasted Tears showed the way past mid-stretch before faltering with the pressuring C. S. Silk, always close to the leaders for Kent Desormeaux, grabbing a short lead in the final sixteenth of a mile. She just missed, however, as Proviso, who drifted in a bit mid-stretch, straightened out and finished furiously to get up in time.
“She’s my turf Zenyatta," Smith said of Proviso. "Praise the Lord.”
"When she hits the front, she tends to wait a little bit so I was trying to time it," Smith added. "Just like Zenyatta.”
Southern California shipper Gotta Have Her was outrun into the turn but finished full of run under Garrett Gomez after angling four wide for the drive. Flying late, she just missed the place spot while finishing a neck better than Fantasia in fourth.
Proviso earned $240,000 for her ninth win in 22 races and boosted her earnings to $1,705,473. The English-bred bay mare is out of Binche, by Woodman.
At equal weights of 124 pounds, she paid $4.60, $3.20 and $2.10. C. S. Silk returned $13 and $8.40 and completed a $79 exacta. Gotta Have Her, repeat winner of Del Mar's Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT) in her last start for trainer Jenine Sahadi, was $4.40 to show.
Fantasia was followed by Wasted Tears, Dynaslew, Kiss Mine, Cure for Sale and the Brazilian-bred West Hope.