Eclipse Award finalist La Verdad makes 2016 debut in Interborough

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Jen Caldwell

January 7th, 2016

La Verdad, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the 2015 champion female sprinter, will make her seasonal bow on Saturday at Aqueduct in the $100,000 Interborough S. against six rivals.

The Linda Rice trainee will be making her first start of 2016 off a pair of losses that ended a six-race streak of crossing the finish line first.

La Verdad began her five-year-old campaign defending her title in the Distaff H. (G2) last April by 5 1/4 lengths. The bay mare would go on to add victories in the Vagrancy H. (G3), Dancin Renee S., Honorable Miss H. (G2), Gallant Bloom H. (G2) and Iroquois S. to her resume before trying the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Keeneland on October 31, exactly one week after her romping win in the Iroquois.

The only thing that kept the New York-bred from bringing a perfect 2015 mark into the Breeders’ Cup was a clenbuterol positive that eventually ended up disqualifying her in the Honorable Miss.

La Verdad didn’t let that stand in her way come Breeders’ Cup Saturday and led all the way into the stretch of the seven-furlong Filly & Mare Sprint. She was caught late by Wavell Avenue, but still held to take home runner-up honors in the prestigious race.

The mare returned a month later at Aqueduct for a try against the boys in the Fall Highweight H. (G3), but tired to sixth in that 2015 finale.

La Verdad has posted one recorded move since then, going a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.80 over the Belmont Park training track on January 2, and keeps regular rider Jose Oritz in the irons for the six-furlong Interborough.

"We've had her here for the duration. We just gave her a little time to recover from the Fall Highweight. She's doing very well and she had a really nice work last weekend," Rice said of her six-year-old charge, who is scheduled to be bred to Medaglia d’Oro following her likely swansong in the February 13 Barbara Fritchie S. (G2) at Laurel Park.

"Frankly, the Barbara Fritchie is in February and we'll probably send her to Kentucky after that," Rice stated. "We'll take it race by race but we thought (the Interborough) was a good option for her at six furlongs and it's in our backyard."

Among those lining up against La Verdad in her possible penultimate career start are Willet, winner of the 2015 Interborough who finished well behind her popular foe in both the Gallant Bloom and Iroquois last year; last-out Garland of Roses S. heroine Room for Me, who ran seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint after a fourth in the Gallant Bloom and third-placing in the Ballerina S. (G1); and Princess Violet, triumphant in last season's Madison S. (G1) off a runner-up effort in the Barbara Fritchie.

The Interborough will go early on Aqueduct’s Saturday card as the 3RD race at approximately 1:20 p.m. (ET).

La Verdad photo courtesy of NYRA/Joe Labozzetta/Adam Coglianese Photography