Torrestrella Makes U.S. Debut in Garden City

Trainer Christophe Clement takes aim at New York's top prize for 3-year-old turf fillies when he sends out Torrestrella and Spotlight in the $300,000 Garden City Breeders' Cup (gr. IT).

A deep international cast of nine fillies entered the Garden City, which is contested at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf course.

Torrestrella, making her United States debut, has not raced in nearly three months. She might be the best of Clement's fillies. One of six European-breds in the race, Torrestrella won the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I) at Longchamp in May and won her only start at nine furlongs. She won on less-than-firm courses overseas, so any give in the ground will not hinder her.

"She's a very nice filly and she's been with me for about two months," said Clement, who went eight for 33 at Saratoga, including wins with fillies Seducer's Song in the Lake George (gr. IIIT) and with Spotlight in the Lake Placid (gr. IIT).

"She looks well, although I haven't been able to train her every day because of the slop and the weather. I would have preferred to give her a race in an allowance race and then run in this stake, but it didn't happen. In the meantime, it's time to go and I'm happy that Corey Nakatani is coming into ride."

Nakatani rode the Clement-trained Voodoo Dancer to victory in the 2001 Garden City.

Spotlight, a British-bred daughter of Dr. Fong, has not been seriously challenged while winning both her stateside starts for Clement this summer. She won the Aug. 23 Lake Placid by nearly four lengths over Mambo Slew, a filly she will face again on Sunday.

"She's a great filly, a tiny little filly, but very tough," Clement said. "This is going to be a tougher race, but it's a grade I for 3-year-old fillies on the turf and I've got to take a shot."

The British-bred Necklace, third versus older fillies and mares in the Beverly D (gr. IT) in her U.S. debut, has had a roller coaster career thus far for trainer Aidan O' Brien, but could be the horse to beat.

Necklace might have been one of the better juvenile fillies in training overseas last summer, having racked up multiple stakes victories including a win in the Moyglare Stakes (Ire-I) at the Curragh. After taking the winter off, however, Necklace returned to competition in May and did not appear the same filly. She was soundly beaten in her first three starts of the season, all of them in group I company.

"It took a lot of time for her to come around as a 3-year-old. She really went backwards over the spring," said O'Brien from his Ballydoyle base in Ireland. "She started coming around in July so we sent her to the Beverly D. We were delighted with her effort."

Necklace saved ground around both turns and had a pretty good trip under jockey Jamie Spencer. With a strong stretch rally, she finished a head off $1.2 million earner Riskaverse for the place. After the Beverly D, O'Brien shipped Necklace back to Ireland.

"She ships well and has trained well since the Beverly D," O'Brien said. "We'll take her back to Ireland after the race."

Dermot Weld, whose Dimitrova finished second in last year's Garden City at odds of 3-5, sends Noahs Ark from Ireland. Noahs Ark enters the race off a minor stakes victory over males at Leopardstown on Aug. 15.

Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IT), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 mile (turf)
1. Necklace, Aidan O'Brien, Jamie Spencer, 122
2. Spotlight, Christophe Clement, Cornelio Velasquez, 120
3. Lucifer's Stone, Linda Rice, Jose Santos, 118
4. Barancella, Freddy Head, Jorge Chavez, 116
5. Torrestrella, Christophe Clement, Corey Nakatani, 122
6. Venturi, Bobby Frankel, John Velazquez, 118
7. (a) Mambo Slew, Patrick Biancone, Edgar Prado, 118
8. Noahs Ark, Dermot Weld, Javier Castellano, 116
9 (a) Saratoga Sugar, Patrick Biancone, Tony Farina, 116