Samitar Gets U.S. Grade I in Garden City

Samitar Gets U.S. Grade I in Garden City
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Samitar fights off Somali Lemonade to win the Garden City.
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Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) winner Samitar added a grade I score in North America Sept. 15, taking the $300,000 Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) by a head at Belmont Park (VIDEO) .

Owner Martin Schwartz said the Oct. 13 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) is the next target for the 3-year-old Rock of Gibraltar runner, who was the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven sophomore fillies.

Samitar completed 1 1/8 miles on the firm inner turf course in 1:48.74 as the 122-pound highweight under jockey Ramon Dominguez. She closed from a comfortable mid-pack position at the head of the stretch to get the lead past thei eighth pole and held off the late run of Somali Lemonade. Tannery was was 1 3/4 length farther back inthird.

"This filly, Ramon rode her perfect," said trainer Chad Brown, who saddled Samitar for the first time after taking over duties from Mick Channon. "She had been training great and blended into our program nicely. She came to me in good shape to begin with. I was happy to see her get a mile and an eighth. That was my one reservation, watching her train and in her races. She has the quality to do it, but I needed to see it, and I saw it today, which is great. Ramon rode a terrific race."

The victory was the third on the card for Dominguez.

"The plan was to sit off the pace; that's what I was instructed to do," the jockey explained. "There was a little concern in me because I didn't see any pace on paper. I knew there was the potential—especially going a mile and an eighth—that it was going to be a paceless race. But, everything worked out really well. My filly settled beautiful and she got a great setup right behind the two leaders. I really had first run at them, so it worked out great."

Dominguez and Samitar raced in fourth behind Karlovy Vary and Ciao Bella as they strolled through an opening quarter in :24.96, the half in :49.74, and three quarters in 1:13.86. Guided into striking position on the far turn, Samitar grabbed the lead with an eighth of a mile to go and had enough left to fend off a determined Somali Lemonade.

Jockey Joel Rosario said Somali Lemonade was gaining, but couldn't muster enough power to get past the winner.

"She ran great," Rosario remarked. "Samitar was the horse to beat. I thought I had a very good chance turning for home, but it was too tough to get the winner. She was gaining, but she probably was second best today. The winner just kept on going."

Samitar returned $3.70, $2.70, and $2.20. Somali Lemonade paid $4.20 and $3.10, while Tannery brought back $3.70. Ciao Bella, Open Water, Trophy Wife, and Karlovy Vary completed the order of finish.

Schwartz purchased the filly, bred in Great Britain by Norman Court Stud out of the Rainbow Quest mare Aileen's Gift, in April. After 10 starts in Europe, she finished third, beaten a neck, in her North American debut in the July 25 Lake George (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course. Her final start in Europe resulted in a fourth-place finish in the Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot June 22.

"She's very athletic, this filly," Schwartz remarked. "She's not big, but she's beautifully proportioned. She's got a big heart, too. When she ran at Ascot in June, it was a crazy race. She was laying second or third, and there was a 20 mile-per-hour headwind and she finished fourth.

"All the speed horses ended up in back of her, and all of the horses in back ended up in front because they drafted off the front because the headwind knocked the daylight out of them. Plus the ground was a little soft there. She was very gutty. She fought for fourth that day, and even in the Lake George, Ramon thought she was done and she fought back on." 

Samitar now has a 4-2-3 record from 12 starts with earnings of $855,941.

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