Looking like a Gulfstream Park turf veteran even though she was making her U.S. debut, Beauty Parlor surged past Photo Call in early stretch on her way to a half-length victory over stablemate Tabreed in the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) Saturday, March 28 (VIDEO).
A homebred for Joseph Allen, Beauty Parlor had made her seven previous starts in France, where in September the Elusive Quality filly closed her 3-year-old season with her first career stakes win in the Prix Occitanie at Bordeaux le Bouscat.
On Saturday Beauty Parlor tracked early leader and 5-2 second-choice Photo Call through a half-mile in :48.86 and six furlongs in 1:14.08. With Racing Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez allowing her to run just enough throughout, Beauty Parlor stayed close then drew even with Photo Call and Julien Leparoux in early stretch. After dueling for a stride or two, Beauty Parlor put away that one and had enough to hold off Tabreed.
Beauty Parlor delivered in her first start for Christophe Clement, who also sent out the runner-up. The winning trainer said he wasn't sure how Beauty Parlor would handle the 1 1/2-mile distance—the longest start of her career—but being out of stakes winner Moon Queen, by Sadler's Wells, gave Clement some confidence. Clement saddled Moon Queen to victory in the 2002 The Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) at 1 3/8 miles on the Gulfstream turf.
"I'm delighted. She won for owner-breeder Joe Allen. He's a great man, very successful," Clement said. "He brought the filly back from France. She had trained well. I had a small question mark if she would stay the distance, but Moon Queen won The Very One for us several years ago, and I guess the daughter is as good as the dam. Life is good."
Velazquez said he had to hold off a ready Beauty Parlor until just the right time.
"We thought she'd be pretty sharp out of there. We had to hold her for a long time," Velazquez said. "She really kicked in. Christophe said she might get to waiting a little bit (once in front) and she did. But she had enough to fight on."
Beauty Parlor completed the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:26.89. She returned $14.60 to win, $7.80 to place, and $5.60 to show. Tabreed returned $7.80 and $4.60 while Kitten's Point held third and returned $5 to show.
Juddmonte Farms' Riposte, the 8-5 favorite, broke through the gate before the race. She was quickly caught after a stride or two and after being examined by a vet was allowed to start. She would finish fifth. Photo Call faded to sixth.