La Cloche Comes With Late Kick in Athenia
Phillips Racing Partnership's homebred La Cloche came flying with a tremendous late kick to win the $150,000 Athenia Stakes (gr. IIIT) by 1 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park Oct. 13, her first graded score (VIDEO) .
The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper , half sister to the recently retired multiple grade I winner Winter Memories, completed 1 1/16 miles on an inner turf course rated "good" in 1:45.15 under jockey Junior Alvarado.
"John (Phillips) will be thrilled about the graded stakes win," remarked trainer Jim Toner. "That's all we've heard: 'Gotta get a graded stakes, gotta get a graded stakes, gotta get a graded stakes!' Thank God, maybe she can get out of her sister's shadow for a change. We're really happy for her."
It was The Underling who showed the way in the Athenia, powering through slow splits of :25.16 and :50.27 followed by Thundering Emilla, Law of the Range, and Laughing. Laughing was hard-held by jockey Cornelio Velasquez and was rank through much of the early going while La Cloche was a well-reserved sixth and then seventh in the eight-horse field.
"I just was waiting for my chance to move outside because she never runs one step on the inside," Alvarado said. "That was pretty much what I was trying to work out first. She was able to swing outside by the quarter pole, and after that I won't say it was really easy, but she took off. She really helped me and gave me a nice kick at the end."
Powering off the turn after three-quarters in 1:15.29, where La Cloche was still seventh, it was the closing Embarr who stuck a nose in front. But when roused to the task midstretch, La Cloche burst into another gear down the center of the track and rapidly overpowered the leaders to get the win.
"Junior rode a great race," Toner said, "he really did. He just waited and waited and tipped her outside. She's got to get outside, and she exploded at the end. This filly is difficult to ride; you have to know her. If everything goes right for her, she can get the job done."
Sent off at odds of 9-2, La Cloche returned $11, $6.10, and $4 while Embarr paid $18.80 and $9.20 and Laughing brought $4.20. Ruthena, the 6-5 choice, was fourth, followed by Martita Sangrita, Law of the Range, Thundering Emilla, and The Underling. Dealbata scratched.
La Cloche was bred in Kentucky out of the multiple grade I stakes-winning Silver Hawk mare Memories of Silver and improved her record to five wins and three seconds from 18 starts, with earnings of $298,883.
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