A 4-year-old daughter of Yes It’s True ridden by Jose Ortiz, La Verdad cruised through an open quarter-mile in 22.80 seconds over the sloppy main track with Risky Rachel and Here’s Zealicious in pursuit. Shaking clear of those rivals at the half, La Verdad opened up by nearly four lengths turning for home and was never challenged as she crossed the finish line.
“She’s a nice horse, a nice New York-bred,” said Ortiz. “It was easy company here. She did what she had to do. She handled [the sloppy track] very good.”
The win marked the first in a stakes for the Lady Sheila Stable color-bearer, who was second in the Grade 2, seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park on February 22. Overall, La Verdad is 6-1-0 from eight career starts, with her only off-the-board performance a fourth on debut in May 2013.
“She’s a big filly so we took our time getting started with her,” said trainer Linda Rice. “Then last summer, she got an infection, and I had to give her the summer off, but she’s come back with a vengeance.”
Rice said the next start for La Verdad likely would be the Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff on April 19 at the Big A.
“I wanted to use this race as a prep for the Distaff, and I was a little shocked at how tough it came up,” said Rice. “I was concerned I didn’t have her quite tight enough for today, but she should be better next time.”
(Jenny Kellner) Jockey gets first win at Big A
Keen On Green led every step of the eighth and final race at Aqueduct Racetrack on Monday afternoon to carry 21-year-old apprentice jockey Francisco Valentin to his first-ever victory.
Valentin, a native of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, came to the United States nine months ago with the dream of becoming a jockey.
It was trainer Gary Contessa, for whom Valentin gallops horses in the mornings, who named the young rider aboard Keen On Green, who went off as the 6-5 favorite in the one-mile maiden race and won by five lengths.
“I’m so happy,” said Valentin, who has had 15 mounts since January, including three second-place finishes. “This is a very emotional moment for me. It’s like a dream coming true.”