Switching to an off-the-pace running style paid big dividends for Paola Queen Aug. 6, as she rallied in the center of the track to score a 55-1 upset win in the $500,000 Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Gustavo Delgado, who secured a grade I win in the U.S. for the first time, Grupo Seven C Stable's Paola Queen earned the first stakes win of her career when she flashed past Off the Tracks and Lightstream in deep stretch to post a three-quarter-length victory. Paola Queen completed seven furlongs in 1:22.32.
"I'm a grown man, and I cry," said an emotional Delgado. "Thank you very much. I love all of Venezuela. This is a very important race for me. I'm very happy. The (fast) pace was very important for us. I'm happy. Everybody is happy."
Guided by jockey Luis Saez, Paola Queen changed from her usual front-running style to top the six other 3-year-old fillies in the Test. She scored her maiden win gate-to-wire in February at Gulfstream Park under Saez, then flashed speed and held second in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) April 12.
In the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Paola Queen raced fifth early and could not rally, finishing ninth. She would show speed again in her most recent start, the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) June 11 at Belmont Park, before fading to fifth. On Saturday the daughter of Flatter closed well from midpack after saving ground in the turn.
"I feel very happy," Saez said. "She ran very good. I worked her a couple of times and she was doing awesome, and today she proved that she is a good filly. As the race was unfolding, I checked behind and no one was coming. I saw Joel (Rosario on Lightstream) coming inside and I started to ride her harder, and she responded to me."
Early on, 6-5 favorite Kareena broke well in her graded stakes debut and was quickly engaged by Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) winner Off the Tracks. Those two dueled through a quarter-mile in :21.74 and Off the Tracks would soon put away Kareena after a half-mile in :43.5. At that point Mother Goose runner-up Lewis Bay joined the party but Off the Tracks showed her the door, and led into the stretch.
Lightstream then powered to the lead just past midstretch but was denied celebration by Paola Queen, who proved best. She made up 2 1/2 lengths in a final furlong run in :13.73. Lightstream edged Off the Tracks by a neck for second. Paola Queen returned $112, $31.40, and $9.50 across the board in the upset win. Lightstream paid $5.50 and $3.90 for the minor awards, and Off the Tracks delivered $3 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by CFP Thoroughbreds, Paola Queen is out of multiple stakes-winning Kafwain mare Kadira. Paola Queen sold for $180,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, where she was purchased by her current owner from the consignment of Hermitage Farm, agent.