Lead Guitar tops open company in Floral Park

Sunday, October 18th, 2020

Lead Guitar, a $200,000 buy at 2017 Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale, surpasses $235,000 in earnings after Floral Park victory. NYRA Photo.

By Tom Law

Big things were expected from Lead Guitar the moment she left the ring at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale in August 2017.

The daughter of Maclean’s Music, who sold for $200,000 that night out of Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck’s Summerfield Sales consignment, has delivered on those expectations and did again Saturday when she handled open company to win the $80,000 Floral Park Stakes at Belmont Park.

Lead Guitar won the 6-furlong turf stakes under Luis Saez by three-quarters of a length from Bohemian Bourbon as the 2-1 favorite. Trained by George Weaver and owned by Jim and Susan Hill, Lead Guitar improved to 5-for-10 and boosted her earnings to $235,678 with her first stakes victory.

“One thing I love about her is that every time she races, whether she’s on the lead or if she has to come from off the pace, it’s not a problem for her,” said Blair Golen, Weaver’s assistant. “She’s just a real racehorse. Horses like that are so nice to have in your barn and make you look good.”

Bred by Windylea Farm and foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, Lead Guitar went through the sales ring in Saratoga twice. She initially sold as a weanling through the McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds consignment, bringing $35,000 from Sally Thomas, agent. She then showed off her own good looks and brought the 13th highest price – and sixth highest for a filly – when the Hills went to $200,000 for her at the 2017 New York-bred sale. That sum was more than twice the sale’s average.

“She’s very nice to ride,” Saez said. “She does everything you ask. She has a lot of speed. Today, the ground was pretty soft, but she just came from behind and when I asked, she took off. She can run anywhere.”

Lead Guitar started her career in New York, finishing third in a maiden turf sprint in early June 2019 at Belmont before a second against males in early August going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Weaver opted for that start against males because “she was ready to run and I didn’t want to skip a race.”

The filly continued her improvement – shedding some greenness along the way – and broke her maiden in start 22 days later back against fillies again going 5 1/2 on the grass. Lead Guitar made one more start as a 2-year-old, finishing second in an open-company allowance race sprinting on the grass at Keeneland.

Lead Guitar remained in Kentucky for the start of her sophomore season, with Eddie Kenneally and his team at Churchill Downs. She won in open company for the first time in her 2020 debut, taking a 5 ½-furlong turf allowance at Churchill June 7. After a fourth in a dirt sprint and a fifth in the Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Sprint Stakes at Ellis Park, Lead Guitar returned to New York to win a state-bred optional for fillies and mares Aug. 20.

Weaver took back the controls after that win and prepped Lead Guitar from his main string on Saratoga’s Oklahoma Training Track. She won her prep for the Floral Park, a 6-furlong turf sprint optional Sept. 20 at Belmont, under Saez.

“She’s always getting better,” Saez said. “She can run from behind or in front. She’s a pretty nice, honest filly. The last time I rode her and the time before that she went to the lead pretty fast. Today, the turf was soft and she missed the break, but she came from behind and won pretty impressively.”

Lead Guitar is the first foal out of the stakes-placed Finality mare Eleadora, who won six of 21 starts and earned $54,750 racing at Hastings Park in Vancouver, British Columbia and Turf Paradise in Arizona. Windylea Farms, Philip O’Neill’s breeding operation launched in 1978 and currently with a base in Hoosick Falls, claimed Eleadora for $5,000 out of a second-place finish in a 6-furlong race at Turf Paradise in October 2013.

Eleadora is also the dam of a 3-year-old Forty Tales filly named Chazy, an unraced 2-year-old Central Banker filly named Mypharm and a yearling filly sister to Lead Guitar, all bred by Windylea. The yearling filly was offered and not sold on a bid of $44,000 at the recent Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale in Timonium, Md. Eleadora did not produce a foal in 2020 and was bred to Mo Town this season.

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