Coming off a stunning upset of eastern heavyweights Royal Delta and It's
Tricky in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap, Green Hills Farm's Love and
Pride showed that win was no fluke by traveling to Santa Anita and knocking out
the West Coast's leading older fillies and mares in Saturday's Grade 1, $250,000
Under Martin Garcia, the Todd Pletcher trainee set a modest pace of :23 4/5, :48 2/5 and 1:12 2/5, and kicked clear in the stretch to the win by 3 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:43 for 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track. The 4-1 third choice in a field of nine, Love and Pride returned $10.20, $5.20 and $4.
"This filly, when she gets a chance to settle into a rhythm, she's obviously able to finish off her races. I think you saw that today," said Mike McCarthy, assistant to Todd Pletcher.
Love and Pride's victory in the Zenyatta, formerly known as the Lady's Secret, came hours after Royal Delta rebounded from her Personal Ensign defeat with a 9 1/2-length demolition of It's Tricky in the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park. Both Love and Pride and Royal Delta are now on track to meet again for a third time this season in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita on November 2.
Midwest import Joyful Victory, who tracked in third early, improved her position one slot in the stretch and edged Include Me Out for place honors by a half-length. The latter, California's leading older filly this term, nosed out sophomore Via Villaggio for the show. Farther back was 2-1 favorite Amani, Star Billing, Switch, Love Theway Youare and Miss Mittagong.
"You just can't close on this track the way it is. Speed's holding, and they didn't go very fast," said Ron Ellis, trainer of Include Me Out. "We'll do better next time. It's just the way the track is now. Unless you're on the lead, you can't win."
Love and Pride opened her career at Delaware Park in 2011, taking her maiden debut by three parts of a length, and two races later recorded an 8 1/4-length victory against allowance company. She made her first foray outside the confines of Delaware when shipped to New York for Saratoga's Proud Spell and triumphed on that day by 6 3/4 lengths.
The dark bay lass wouldn't visit the winner's circle again until making her four-year-old bow on January 28, capturing the Affectionately at Aqueduct by seven lengths. In the interim she placed in the Grade 1 Gazelle and two overnight stakes.
Following her season-opening win, Love and Pride finished second in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap to It's Tricky and just missed by a head in the Grade 3 Allaire duPont Distaff two races later. She finally recorded her first graded score in the Grade 3 Obeah, appropriately enough back at Delaware Park. A fading fourth behind Royal Delta in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap after setting a hot pace, Love and Pride upset both that rival and It's Tricky in the nine-furlong Personal Ensign. This second straight top-level triumph elevates her career mark to 16-7-2-4, $925,760.
Bred in Kentucky by Stud TNT, Love and Pride was a $380,000 Keeneland April two-year-old in training RNA. She is out of the Grade 1-placed Storm Cat mare Ile de France, making her a three-quarter sibling to classic-winning champion and top sire Bernardini. That stallion and Ile de France are both out of Broodmare of the Year and Grade 1 victress Cara Rafaela, who also produced the dam of multiple Grade 3 scorer Thiskyhasnolimit. Cara Rafaela is herself a half-sister to dual Grade 3 hero and sire Abaginone.
Love and Pride's fourth dam is the Grade 3-winning Northern Dancer mare Northern Fable.