Herboriste never let favored Palmilla get away from her and eventually wore her rival down in the stretch to win the $150,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths at Keeneland Oct. 19.
Wins have been in short supply for the Great Britain-bred 5-year-old daughter of Hernando. But with Julien Leparoux riding her for the first time in the 1 1/2-mile turf event for fillies and mares, Herboriste reached the winner's circle for the first time in one year. In winning her first stakes race, she also ended a streak of three consecutive runner-up finishes for trainer Michael Matz.
Herboriste settled into a tracking spot running easily just behind pacesetter Tejida and Palmilla, the 3-2 choice in the field of 11. Fractions crawled for the first half of the race -- :26.32 for the opening quarter-mile, a a half in :51.18 for the half and 1:16.01 for six furlongs.
Rounding the turn Palmilla, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, challenged Tejida for the lead. But Herboriste, on the outside of Palmila, pounced as well. After getting to the front, Palmilla was immediately tackled in upper stretch by Herboriste, who gradually assumed the lead approaching the eighth pole and drew away for the victory. The final time was 2:31.16 on firm going.
“She was relaxed all the way,” said Leparoux, who won his third race on the Keeneland program. “I just waited with her, and then she went right to the front.”
The win was the third in 18 lifetime starts for Herboriste. Her last victory came at Keeneland Oct. 18, 2007, in a 1 1/2-mile turf allowance race. She had lost seven in a row and was coming off a tough-luck second in a 12-furlong Delaware Park stakes Sept. 3, a race she led in deep stretch before getting caught at the wire. The $93,000 winner's share boosted Herboriste's bankroll to $285,599 for owner Northern Bloodstock.
Sent off as the second choice, she paid $10.40, $4 and $2.60. Palmilla, who defeated Herboriste by 3 1/2 lengths in the Robert G. Dick Memorial (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park this summer, returned $3.20 and $2.60. The $2 exacta was worth $28.20.
“I think the difference (this time) was that she (Herboriste) had to make the pace in that race and Palmilla just sat off of us and ran right by her,” said Matz. “Today, she wasn’t so close to the pace.”
It was 6 1/2 lengths back to the German-bred Caprice, who was $4.80 to show with Jeremy Rose aboard. Solva, Monte Crystal, Furusato, Tejida, Oh Glory Be, Almonsoon, You Dancing Devil and Arundel completed the order. Brushed Gold, Viva La Flag and Queendom scratched.