By Sarah Mace
William C. Schettine’s Isabelle, a 6-year-old daughter of Successful Appeal, could not have been more commanding Saturday afternoon, when she went gate-to-wire to score a twelve-length win in Aqueduct’s 1 1/16-mile, $150,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational. The win was Isabelle’s fourth stakes victory and first in open company.
The 7-5 second choice on Saturday, the Bill Mott-trainee had recently forged a successful bond with pilot Kendrick Carmouche. On December 11, in the 1 1/16-mile Bay Ridge Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares, Isabelle and Carmouche adanced from fourth at the rail to win by more than five lengths. On February 5, the same pair ran a solid second in the Biogio’s Rose Stakes after setting the pace. Isabelle’s Beyers for these two starts came in at 95 and 92, respectively.
Popping out of post three in the Heavenly Prize, Isabelle and Carmouche assumed the lead on the way to the clubhouse turn while racing well off the rail. Tracked by odds-on favorite Genre, Isabelle worked her way to the fence for the first bend and settled in for the run down backstretch two lengths to the good. Genre continued to chase in second and 20-1 Chorus Line raced covered up in third.
Leading by three lengths at the quarter pole, Isabelle began to draw off under a drive. After a peek back to see they were clear, Carmouche geared the mare down as they crossed the finish line with a 12-length margin of victory. After a half mile in 49.04 and a mile in 1:39.20, she stopped the clock over the fast going at 1:46.04.
Genre, who seemed to tire in upper stretch and fall out of contention, came again to collect second money, followed across the line by Chorus Line. Completing the order of finish were Oasis At Midnight, Annie Rocks and Familyofroses. New York-bred graded winner Highway Star was scratched. [VIDEO REPLAY]
“My filly broke really well,” said Carmouche. “I just wanted to get away from the rail where I could get her in hand and pretty much the race went from there. I just had to ride her home.”
Added Carmouche, “She did everything right. Hats off to Mr. Mott and his team. I’m just a pilot. She was really amazing to beat open-bred horses and she’s a New York-bred. That’s really good.”
Mott assistant Leanna Willaford said, “Kendrick was pretty confident he could make the lead and make the most of it, and he did. She was doing really well coming into the race. I really don’t know where we’ll go from here. I’m just happy we’ve gotten to keep her this long during breeding season.”
Isabelle, who adds the Heavenly Prize to stakes wins in the Bouwerie, Broadway and Bay Ridge, began her career under the care of Lisa Lewis, for whom who she broke her maiden sprinting at Belmont in May of 2014 and, three weeks later, won the Bouwerie Stakes.
Moving to Mott’s barn in January 2015 after she cleared her state-bred conditions, Isabelle reeled off victories in an open allowance and the Broadway Stakes. After a subsequent eight-race win drought, she started rolling again with the Bay Ridge score.
Isabelle was bred by Bluegrass Farm Partners in partnership with Jeffrey Tucker, and foaled at Tucker’s Stonebridge Farm in Gansevoort. Her dam is Florida-bred stakes-placed runner Merrill Gold, who has produced four winners. Merrill Gold has produced a yearling full brother to Isabelle and was bred in 2016 to Competitive Edge.
Schettine purchased Isabelle at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton New York select yearling sale for $100,000. She now has seven wins and four seconds from 19 starts and has just crossed the half million-dollar threshold with $502,102 in earnings.