After a very lucrative 2014 campaign that saw her win six of 11 starts, including four stakes races restricted to New York-breds in addition to her Distaff triumph, La Verdad earned some much needed rest following a distant seventh-place finish against males in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap to conclude the year.
“I had her in training for a long time - about a year and a half - and she was running every month and really performing every time,” said La Verdad’s trainer, Linda Rice. “She was showing a few signs of needing a rest, so I turned her out for the winter. She deserved it.”
Although La Verdad came into the six-furlong Distaff a work short of her best by Rice’s estimation, the 5-year-old mare delivered a powerful performance.
Breaking from post 4, the daughter of Yes It’s True darted to the front under Jose Ortiz and quickly opened up a few lengths on the field. Not content to let La Verdad receive an uncontested lead, jockey Junior Alvarado and Aireofdistinction challenged the 1-5 favorite through the opening quarter-mile.
The rapid tempo continued as the field rounded the far turn through, but Aireofdistinction bore out on the turn, leaving La Verdad in sole possession of the lead. From there, the Rice trainee was kept to task and cruised home to prevail by 5 ¼ lengths.
“I wasn’t happy when I saw [Aireofdistinction] coming after her early, and they were going pretty fast,” said Rice. “I was a little concerned that was going to make it a real test on her fitness, but her ability is the key.”
Owned by Lady Sheila Stable, La Verdad bumped her bankroll to $900,700.
Frivolity, Mamdooha, and Aireofdistinction completed the order of finish.
Three races later, Vision Perfect, coming off a layoff of several months, received a perfect trip under Manuel Franco to win the $100,000 Woodhaven Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf for 3-year-olds.
Vision Perfect, a son of Pollard’s Vision trained by David Donk, had not raced since taking the Awad Stakes on October 26 at Belmont Park in his 2-year-old finale.
“It was a very gutsy, game performance off the layoff,” said Donk. “It’s been a little bit of a tough spring because of the weather, but he’s trained well. The horses that came up from Florida probably had a little bit of an edge, but kudos to Vision Perfect.”
Made in Detroit finished second, 1 ½ lengths in front of a troubled Chief Kitten, who appeared to be making a winning move before being forced to steady along the rail in the stretch. Eh Cumpari and Zandar rounded out the order of finish.
(Sean Morris) Belmont Gears up for Derby Day
Derby Day is less than two weeks away (May 2), kicking off the 2015 Triple Crown championship series.
The New York Racing Association will host a live simulcast of the vaunted “Run for the Roses” as well as complementing a full day of championship racing with many unique activities including a Kentucky-themed barbecue festival and Knob Creek bourbon tasting, as well as an outdoor concert in Belmont’s vast, picturesque backyard.
At 10 am, gates will officially open for Derby Day, with general admission available for $5. Special picnic packages, including admission, lunch and a program, are available for groups of 4 or more.
Numerous family-fun activities are planned for Derby Day at Belmont Park, featuring face painting, a bounce house and a petting zoo.
An evening concert will also entertain guests in the Belmont backyard.