Lady Sheila Stable’s La Verdad (Yes It’s True) dominated a deep field loaded with speedy fillies and mares to achieve her first graded victory gate-to-wire in the Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Handicap Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday afternoon. La Verdad makes it two in a row for New York-bred fillies in the Distaff, following in the footsteps of undefeated New York-bred Horse of the Year Cluster of Stars, who earned her fifth straight victory and first black type in the race last year.
A winner of six of eight prior lifetime starts for conditioner Linda Rice, La Verdad followed up a game second in her stakes debut in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park on February 22 with a commanding three-plus-length win in a sloppy renewal of the Broadway for New York-bred female sprinters on March 29. To tune up for the Distaff, the 4-year-old posted a sharp five-furlong breeze at Belmont Park on April 11 in 1:00 3/5, the fastest of thirty to work the distance that day.
Bet down to narrow 2-1 favoritism in the field of seven teed up for six-furlong Distaff (just edging 2.2-1 second choice Kauai Katie), La Verdad could have been vulnerable to having her frontrunning style compromised by the other speed in the field, but in the event turned the race into a romp.
Exiting post one like a shot under regular rider Jose Ortiz, La Verdad immediately threw down the gauntlet, opening up a length on the field and challenging the rest to “catch me if you can.”
After running fractions of :22.26 and :44.93, tracked first by Munnings Sister, then by Bridgehampton (who advanced as far as La Verdad’s neck in the far turn), La Verdad opened up again at the top of the lane. Entering the stretch with a comfortable lead, she cruised to the wire a 3 3/4-length winner.
Stonestreet Stables’ Kauai Katie came from off the pace to finish a solid second in her first start since last July, while My Pal Chrisy turned her closing style to advantage to advance from last finish third. The final time over the fast Aqueduct main was 1:09.10, La Verdad’s fastest six furlongs to date by nearly a full second. [VIDEO]
Jose Ortiz said, “She broke really well. The other filly put a little pressure on but she handled it OK. She was very relaxed. I know we went in :44, but she did it very easily. When I asked her to go at the quarter-pole, she just took off. I knew I had a lot of horse. Linda [Rice] has done a great job with her.”
Sheila Rosenblum of Lady Sheila Stable was elated with the victory, saying after the race, “I love that horse, and New York loves that horse. She’s a New York horse. There were great horses [in the race], but she was the best one today. This is the first [graded stakes win of my life], hopefully not my last. She’ll always be special. This is a really special moment, right after my daughter and son were born. She’s right up there.”
After finishing fourth in her unveiling in March 2013 on the Aqueduct inner, La Verdad went on to break her maiden and win an entry-level state-bred allowance in back-to-back starts in April and May at Aqueduct and Belmont. Following six months off, she took three straight races, winning through her second-level open allowance condition before finishing second in the Fritchie, winning the Broadway and Grade 2 Distaff. With a record of 7-1-0 from 9 starts, La Verdad has earned $426,700.
Bred by Eklektikos Stable LLC and foaled at Chester and Mary Broman’s Chestertown farm in Chestertown, La Verdad is one of two winners from two foals to start out of Noble Fire (Hook and Ladder), a stakes-placed runner bred by Chester and Mary Broman and also trained by Linda Rice ($67,000).
Noble Fire, who was purchased by Rice as agent for $115,000 at the 2007 OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training, is also the dam of speedy Rice-trained Eklektikos homebred N. F’s Destiny (Cuvee), a four-time winner and earner of over $200,000.
Noble Fire currently has a 2-year-old filly by City Zip named Hot City Girl. She was bred to Freud last spring.