Odds-on choice My Miss Aurelia won the $150,000 Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) as expected at Saratoga Aug. 14, fighting off a determined Millionreasonswhy through the homestretch to prevail by a neck (VIDEO).
Steve Asmussen trains the good-looking daughter of Smart Strike for George Bolton and Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stables, which bred her. The bay filly, who is out of the Sea of Secrets mare My Miss Storm Cat, sold for $500,000 as a Keeneland September yearling last year.
“Jess (Jackson) and Barbara named her after my mother shortly before Jess passed away," Bolton related. "It’s a very sentimental thing. My mother is a lucky person, and it was apropos to have a horse named after her.”
Banke added, “Aurelia is one of the luckiest people I know, and was our lucky charm during the entire Curlin campaign."
My Miss Aurelia ran her record to two-for-two while defeating four 2-year-old filly rivals in a time of 1:17.01 for 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track.
She drew heavy support off her steady one-length win at Saratoga July 22 over a maiden special weight field that included Stopshoppingmaria, who stumbled badly at the start and finished third. Stopshoppingmaria returned to win a maiden heat two races prior to the Adirondack by 9 3/4 lengths.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, My Miss Aurelia broke best and dueled on the outside of early pacesetter Bellacourt. The two swapped leadership while posting swift quarter-mile splits of :22.20 and :45.32. Millionreasonswhy, never far back in third after breaking last, joined the leaders on the far outside rounding the bend and it soon became a two-horse race when Bellacourt gave way.
Millionreasonswhy, under encouragement from John Velazquez, stayed with My Miss Aurelia all the way down the lane. Leparoux gave My Miss Aurelia a left-handed crack of the whip past the sixteenth pole and she dug in to hold on over Millionreasonswhy in the final strides.
"I think she showed a lot, coming off one 5 ½-furlong maiden race to fight like that to the wire, especially with the way the race set up," Asmussen said. "She was challenged the whole way, and it’s very nice to have a filly as good as she is."
Asmussen said he was hoping for an easier race as he considers the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) over seven furlongs at Saratoga Sept. 4.
“We have big plans for her, and we want enough horse left to do it," he said. "She’s a very special filly, with her being a Stonestreet homebred and George (Bolton) being in on her. Barbara, she’s just a tremendous individual and it speaks volumes of the horses they are breeding and raising to win a race of this caliber, especially in that style. She earned it; it definitely wasn’t given to her today."
My Miss Aurelia received four pounds from Millionreasonswhy, who carried top weight of 122 after her two-length win in the Matron Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park July 3.
"It was a nice fight and I’m glad she won it," Leparoux said of the winner. "This shows she has some fight to her. She doesn't want anyone to go by her or get past her. When I saw Stopshoppingmaria win her race pretty easily today, I really felt good about our chances."
My Miss Aurelia, who pushed her lifetime earnings to $120,000, returned $3, $2.10, $2.10 as the 1-2 favorite. Sagamore Farm's Millionreasonswhy, a daughter of Grand Slam that sold for $115,000 at Keeneland, returned $2.50 and $2.10 as the 5-2 second choice. The exacta was worth $6.60. Bellacourt, a New York-bred daughter of Lion Heart facing open company for the first time, paid $2.40 to show.
New Wave and Anna Sophia trailed. Funny Proposition was scratched by trainer Mark Casse.