Quezon garners fifth stakes victory in first running of the La Verdad

Friday, January 19th, 2018

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Sarah Mace

Marc Keller’s Quezon (Tiz Wonderful) put her fifth career stakes victory on the board at Aqueduct Friday in the twice-rescheduled $100,000 La Verdad for New York-bred fillies and mares. The 7-furlong race, run for the first time, was named for Sheila Rosenblum’s New York-bred star, who was crowned Eclipse champion female sprinter in 2015 before retiring for broodmare duty at Edition Farm in Hyde Park.

Quezon was the headliner of the two prior incarnations of the La Verdad, which was scrapped for bad weather on January 6 and January 12, respectively – in the latter case due to fog. On Friday, she went off as the 3-5 favorite in the six-horse field. A seventh entry, Linda Rice-trained Holiday Disguise, had to be scratched as officials still awaited test results on another Rice horse who tested positive for EHV-1 last week.

Away cleanly, Quezon set up in fifth position, rating at the rail while 16-1 Wonderment set the pace through early fractions of 22.96 and 46.07. As the field approached the far turn, Quezon began to work her way off the rail and close on the frontrunners.

In the bend, while 5-2 Absatootly moved up from third to get on even terms with Wonderment, Quezon advanced into third.

Challenging for the lead in upper stretch, Quezon swept past Wonderment and Absatootly on the grandstand side with a furlong to go. Fully in charge and opening up her advantage in the final panel, she crossed the finish line 4 1/4 lengths ahead of runner up Palladian bridge, who closed well for second.

Wonderment finished three lengths back in third, followed by Bee Noteworthy, Absatootly and longshot She’s All Ready. After six furlongs in a speedy 1:10.29, the final time was 1:22.68. [VIDEO REPLAY]

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

“I was hoping to be in the pocket right behind the leaders,” said winning rider Joe Rocco, Jr. “The way that it worked out, I wasn’t able to do that, but it worked out good. I had plenty of horse and she ran a bang-up race today.”

Continued Rocco, “She started her run at the top of the stretch and ran on well to the wire. Last time [in the Garland of Roses on December 9], she only really ran the last sixteenth. 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.”

Trainer Bobby Ribaudo said he felt very good about his mare’s chances before the race.

“We were very confident going into this. 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. You can never be too confident in this business, but we were very confident today. And, she fulfilled that expectation. 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.”

Ribaudo also cited Quezon’s affinity for colder temperatures as a positive factor. “I think the cold weather helps [her]. 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.”

Quezon may make her next start in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie on February 17 at Laurel Park. Said Ribaudo, “It’s early, but I think the goal here is the Barbara Fritchie because it’s graded and the thing that’s eluded her is the graded win. That’s what I’m going to point for, then decide whether to lay her up for a while and bring her back or go ahead and breed her. That race will tell us.”

In five prior appearances in graded races, Quezon finished fourth in the Grade 2 Demoiselle in 2014, second in the Gallant Bloom in 2016, third in the same race the following year, third in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap in 2017 and sixth in the Bed o’ Roses that year in her next start. She won the Garland Roses in 2017, but only after it was downgraded from Grade 3 to “listed.”

Ultra-consistent throughout her career, 6-year-old Quezon has won seven races in all, finished second six times and third twice in 18 starts. She has won a stakes race in each year: the Maid of the Mist at two, the Bouwerie at three, the Iroquois in the following year and the open Garland of Roses in her final start of 2017. Her earnings total just over three-quarters of a million dollars ($754,200).

Bred by Apache Farm LLC and foaled at Apache Farm North in Mt. Morris, 6-year-old Quezon is the only foal produced by Kalookan Dancer, a multiple stakes-winning California-bred daughter of Olympio. Quezon was a $90,000 purchase by Riverside Stable at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale in Saratoga.

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