Under a patient ride from Channing Hill, Sweet Vendetta saved ground for most of the 1 1/8 miles before angling out at the top of the lane to begin her late move. The 3-year-old Stephen Got Even filly collared a distracted Shes All Eltish inside the sixteenth pole, hitting the wire in front to earn her first graded stakes.
Shes All Eltish, ridden by Garrett Gomez, led the field of eight into the stretch, but lugged in badly after drawing clear – perhaps costing the bay filly a win. After the race, Gomez said she was spooked by the starting gate, which was in plain view of the horses as they entered the stretch. As it was, Shes All Eltish held the place, three-quarters of a length in front of Seattle Smooth and Edgar Prado.
The final time was 1:49:60 on a sealed track, the fifth fastest in 84 runnings of the Black-Eyed Susan.
"The race unfolded exactly the way I figured it was going to," Hill said. "I figured I was going to be a little more off the pace than I was in her previous race. I think she’s enough filly to handle anything.”
Co-owned and co-bred by former television star David Cassidy, Sweet Vendetta entered the race off a four-length win in the March 19 Andover Way Stakes at Aqueduct, which also happened to be on a sloppy track. Gary Contessa trains the bay filly.
"She was training up a storm," Contessa said. "I know she’s a natural at this distance. She’s almost 17 hands and has that big loping stride. I thought this was a good fit here. When the heavens opened up last night that added more icing to the cake. We know she loves the mud, as well. This is what we’d envisioned.”
Zayat Stables’ Sherine was the one to catch throughout the backstretch. The daughter of Precise End went a quarter in :23.65 and a half-mile in :47.62. Maren’s Meadow stalked the pace after bobbling at the break, with Sherine’s coupled entry-mate, Pious Ashley, and Shes All Eltish also close up. Betting favorite Bsharpsonata (5-2) was mid-pack, but it was clear that the two-time grade II winner was not moving her best. She wound up finishing last.
Under the handling of Alan Garcia, Sherine continued to lead around the turn, getting six furlongs in 1:12.17. But as they approached the quarter-pole Pious Ashley moved up alongside and Shes All Eltish looped three-wide into contention.
After taking a lead inside the three-sixteenths-pole, Shes All Eltish still was in command despite her stretch antics. Gomez steadied her enough to save a clear advantage in upper stretch, but Sweet Vendetta, coming with a four-wide explosion, ran down the leader just inside the sixteenth pole.
“Garrett rode her perfectly," said Mary Wolfson, trainer of Shes All Eltish. "She’s done this to me three or four times where she opens up and kind of loses focus. She opened up at Gulfstream and then lost by a head. It doesn’t take much of anything to distract her.”
Going off as the fifth choice at odds of 7-1, Sweet Vendetta paid $17.40, $8.40 and $5.20. The exacta with Shes All Eltish ($4.60, $3.40) returned $85.80, while the $2 trifecta with Seattle Smooth ($3.40) was worth $514.20.
Highest Class, Pious Ashley, Sherine, Maren's Meadow and Bsharpsonata completed the order. One Step Ahead scratched.
Sweet Vendetta is out of the Desert Wine mare Sand Pirate. She was bred in New York by Cassidy and Edward Lipton. Team Penney Racing purchased her for $30,000 at the Keeneland January 2007 Horses of All Ages sale.
With the $120,000 win, the bay filly improved to 3-1-0 from seven starts with earnings of $206,596.
A crowd of 18,407 braved sometimes inclement weather, wagering $9,119,254 on-track despite 23 fewer runners than a year ago on Preakness Eve at Old Hilltop. Six races were taken off the turf, resulting in a rash of scratches.