Making her United States debut, French-bred filly Alterite seized the lead past mid-stretch en route to a commanding victory in the $500,000 Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) on the inner turf Sept. 14 at Belmont Park (VIDEO).
Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez gave Alterite a perfect European style stalking trip before she launched her bid in the stretch to overtake 5-2 favorite Discreet Marq, who set a pedestrian pace in the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-old fillies.
Chad Brown trains the winning daughter of Literato for Martin Schwartz. Group I-placed at Longchamp in May, Alterite was making her first start since finishing sixth in the Prix de Diane Longines (Fr-I, French Oaks) at Chantilly June 16.
Alterite prevailed by 1 1/2 lengths in a slow time of 1:50.55 over firm turf. Discreet Marq held on for second by a nose, with even-running Concise third in a field of 10.
Ecurie La Vallee Martigny bred Alterite in France, where she was trained by Jean-Claude Rouget.
"I think she ran terrific," said Brown, who also won last year's Garden City with Schwartz's Samitar. "She looks great. She came over to me in real good shape from her previous trainer, and she just settled in beautifully. Each week she's been here, she's adapted more. She's a high-strung horse, and I thought she handled herself in the race very well. She should improve from here.
"I was concerned about the firm ground," Brown added. "We did get some rain, I was happy to see a couple of days ago, but with how windy it's been, and clear, I thought it dried out too much. Based on what I read, and based on what I've heard from her previous trainer, she prefers soft ground."
Discreet Marq, ridden by Garrett Gomez, took the early lead over Summer of Fun, with Concise settling nicely in third toward the inside. Alterite was just off the leading group in fourth while racing away from the rail for Velazquez. Discreet Marq milked soft fractions of :25.35, :50.78, and 1:15.49 and took the lead into the stretch over Summer of Fun and Concise, with Alterite in fourth.
Given her cue approaching the quarter pole, Alterite charged home three wide on the outside of the leaders, getting the advantage just past the furlong marker and drawing clear under some urging in an impressive drive.
"She was going so good that I didn't worry about (the slow pace)," Velazquez said after claiming his first Garden City win. "Chad just said, 'Make sure you tuck her in a little bit during the first part and work your way through and let her finish.' I didn't really have to work my way through, though. I just took her around and, at the eighth pole, let her roll right up to the horses in front of me. She did it pretty easily."
Discreet Marq was all out for Gomez to nip Concise and Edgar Prado for third.
Certainly a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park Nov. 2, Alterite won for the fourth time in 10 starts while extending her earnings to $508,797. Her best start in France was a second by a nose to Silasol in the Pour Moi Coolmore Prix Saint Alary (Fr-I) May 26 at Longchamp.
A bay filly out of the Dream Well mare Ana Luna, Alterite recorded her first grade or group win in the Garden City.
Schwartz said he purchased the good-looking filly following a close third-place effort in a group III race at Longchamp last October, shortly after his mare Zagora captured the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita. He noted that Alterite was the only filly to run in all legs of the French filly triple crown.
"I'd like to go to California again, but she likes a little cut in the ground," Schwartz said. "We were going to go to the QEII (gr. IT) at Keeneland (Oct. 12), and there's always the E.P. Taylor (gr. IT, Oct. 27 at Woodbine). She'll stay a mile and a quarter as she did in France. The sky's the limit, as they say."
Sent off as the second choice at 3-1, Alterite carried 116 pounds and paid $8, $4.30, and $4.20 while topping a $31.20 exacta. Discreet Marq, favored off her win Aug. 17 in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. IT), saw her three-race winning streak come to an end while returning $3.90 and $3.10. Concise, a British import making her third U.S. start for trainer Graham Motion, paid $7.20 to show.
Watsdachances finished fourth, a head behind Concise, with Summer of Fun a nose back in fifth. Then came Precarious, Caroline Thomas, Emollient, With Sugar On Top, and Praia. Effie Trinket scratched.