Marc Keller's Quezon stayed comfortably off the pace, gained the lead in the stretch, and cruised to a 4 1/4-length win in the first running of the $100,000 La Verdad for New York-bred filly and mare sprinters Jan. 19 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Off as the 3-5 favorite, Quezon settled in fifth in the six-horse field, as Wonderment went to the front and completed a quarter-mile in :22.96 and the half in :46.07, with Absatootly challenging from the outside.
Under jockey Joe Rocco Jr., Quezon gained ground out of the turn and angled three-wide in the stretch to outkick Palladian Bridge and Wonderment. She completed seven furlongs in 1:22.67 on the main track labeled fast.
"I was hoping to be in the pocket right behind the leaders. The way that it worked out, I wasn't able to do that, but it worked out good," Rocco said. "I had plenty of horse and she ran a bang-up race today. She started her run at the top of the stretch and ran on well to the wire. Last time (in the Dec. 9 Garland of Roses Stakes), she only really ran the last sixteenth (of a mile). Today she had more of a prolonged run, but it was nice. I was confident in the filly and she did what we thought she would, so it was great."
Trained by Bobby Ribaudo, Quezon, who paid $3.40 to win, won her second consecutive stakes start and finished in the money for a sixth straight race. The 6-year-old Tiz Wonderful mare improved her record to seven wins from 18 starts and has a bankroll of $754,200. She was bred by Apache Farm.
"We were very confident going into this," Ribaudo said. "She was training great. Even with all the missed training over the last couple of weeks, she was able to get enough in. She was doing great. She really kicked on, more so than she did the last time, and basically (against) the same group of horses. We were very happy with the finish. She switched leads again, which was really nice."
The La Verdad was originally scheduled to run Jan. 6 but was postponed due to inclement weather.
"I think the cold weather helps (Quezon)," said Ribaudo, who added the chestnut mare could target the grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Feb. 17 at Laurel Park. "Last year she didn't get good until the fall. That was one of the reasons why we kept her here this winter, and it looks like it's held true. She can get hot in the paddock and stuff, and sometimes she's a wild filly. She even wanted to get a little hot today walking over with the blanket on. But the cold weather really helps her, I think."