Inimitable Romanee Gets Gulfstream Distance
Inimitable Romanee wore down pacesetter Viva Rafaela in the final furlong to score a convincing victory in $100,000 The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 15 at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO).
The 6-year-old Maria's Mon mare struck from off the just off pace and comfortably held back the closing charge of Aigue Marine to win by a length. The triumph was a display of versatility following her front-running win at 28-1 in the 1 1/2-mile Long Island Handicap (Gr. IIT) Nov. 9 at Aqueduct Racetrack in her previous start.
With Alan Garcia riding for trainer Graham Motion, Inimitable Romanee covered 1 3/8 miles in 2:15.50 on firm turf while improving her career line to 4-6-5 with earnings of $383,875 from 21 career starts. The New York-bred is campaigned by breeder Gallagher's Stud.
"She broke good and was nice and relaxed," Garcia said of Inimitable Romanee, who won at 10-1 odds.
Inimitable Romanee settled into striking position in fourth early as Viva Rafaela, a group I winner in her native Brazil, sprinted to the lead and set moderate fractions :23.78, :49.99, 1:15.50, and 1:39.66 through a mile. She maintained a clear advantage from Seanchai and Aigue Marine, who tracked from second and third.
Inimitable Romanee and Seanchi moved closer to the leader nearing the home turn. With his sights on Viva Rafaela, Garcia asked Inimitable Romanee for more and she found another gear to collar Viva Rafaela at the eighth pole. The two were eyeball to eyeball for a few strides before the winner dug in and pulled clear for the victory under urging.
As Seanchai weakened, Aigue Marine, ridden by Joel Rosario, rallied past Viva Rafaela and John Velazquez, who held on for third, a neck back.
Inimitable Romanee paid $22.40, $8 and $4.80 and Aigue Marine returned $4.40 and $3.40 to combine for a $130.20 exacta. Viva Rafaela paid $5.60.
Left a Message finished half a length farther back in fourth, followed by 8-5 favorite Preferential, who ran evenly to finish fifth. Seanchai and Dame Marie completed the order of finish.
Anjaz, a temperamental Street Cry mare out of former world-record priced broodmare Playful Act, was fractious in the starting gate and was scratched.
"She's got a little temper behind her," said trainer Tom Albertrani, who later on the card won the Mac Diarmida (gr. IIT) with favorite Twilight Eclipse. "She just had some minor scratches. It's unfortunate, but I know they're just doing what's best for the horse."
Inimitable Romanee, who is out of the stakes-winning Kissin Kris mare Cellars Shiraz, placed in six stakes for state-breds in 2012 and 2013 before her breakthrough in the Long Island. Her career began with Amanda Perrett in England where she broke her maiden in her second start.
"We backed off of her a little bit (after the Long Island)—I didn't want to come down here and run in every race," Motion said. "We had the idea of giving her a little break. She'd been running maybe not all year, but she had had a good go, so we backed off of her a bit."
Inimitable Romaneehad primarily been campaigned in two-turn races for the last two years before stretching out to 12 furlongs in the Long Island.
"I'm not surprised that she's come into herself, I should have tried her at a mile and a half about three years ago, I guess," Motion said. "This was our first goal and I'm not going to be in a hurry to run her back. It's a long year. I am lucky that (owner) Mrs. (Marlene) Brody decided to keep her in training because she very easily could have sent her to the breeding shed. I feel very fortunate that she kept her going."
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