Exactly one week before her half-brother and stablemate Shackleford lines up in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, Afleeting Lady broke through with her first graded victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap at Belmont Park. Owned by Alpha Delta Stables and Richard Santulli, the Dale Romans trainee stalked, pounced, and drew off with authority by 3 1/2 lengths.
Afleeting Lady had previously placed twice at the Grade 2 level at Churchill Downs, just missing by a neck in last November's Falls City Handicap, and finishing best-of-the-rest behind the imperious Royal Delta in the June 16 Fleur de Lis Handicap. The five-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex earned her first stakes score in the September 3 Lady's Secret at Monmouth last out, and continued her progress here.
After breaking alertly beneath Joel Rosario, the 3-1 second choice was content to track in second, observing All Due Respect rattle off fractions of :23 1/5, :46 and 1:10 1/5. Maristar raced in third, 5-2 favorite R Gypsy Gold didn't appear to be traveling with any alacrity, and defending champion Arena Elvira was reserved in the next flight.
Afleeting Lady ranged up alongside the pacesetter at the top of the stretch, but All Due Respect knuckled down under pressure and tried to fend off the challenge. As soon as Afleeting Lady switched to her right lead, however, the race was over. She kicked clear to complete 1 1/16 miles on the fast track in 1:42, returning $8, $4.10 and $3.30.
"That was an easy trip," Rosario summed up. "It looked like (All Due Respect) was the speed. My horse has speed, too, but I just let them go and let my horse get comfortable and she was really game today."
All Due Respect easily held second by 2 1/4 lengths. The late-running Nefertini edged fellow deep closer Go Unbridled by a nose for third. R. Gypsy Gold checked in fifth, followed by Arena Elvira, Maristar and Catch a Thief.
Afleeting Lady improved her record to 19-6-4-2, $374,822. The bay took seven tries to break her maiden, but after clearing that hurdle in the summer of 2011, she began to turn the corner. Third in the Mari Hulman George at Hoosier in her stakes debut, Afleeting Lady came right back to romp in an optional claimer at Churchill, and capped her sophomore campaign by nearly upsetting Arena Elvira in the Falls City. She avenged that loss, with interest, on Saturday.
Bred by James M. Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge in Kentucky, Afleeting Lady is one of five stakes winners produced by the stakes-placed Unbridled mare Oatsee. Her headliner is $2.8 million-earner Shackleford, last year's Preakness winner who showed his trademark grit to prevail in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. Runner-up in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, he will try to go one better at Santa Anita.
Oatsee's other stakes winners are Lady Joanne, victress of the Grade 1 Alabama in 2007; multiple Grade 3 queen Baghdaria; and her current three-year-old Stephanoatsee, who just captured last Saturday's Barbaro Stakes at Delaware.
Further back, this is the family of multiple Grade 1 stars Tappiano and Tentam, classic-winning sire Known Fact and world-renowned sire Gone West.