Lady Lara, Lochte make for logical outcomes at Gulfstream Park West
Swettenham Stud’s Lady Lara, who got a rider switch to Jose Lezcano here, responded by taking up a better early position. Nestled in fourth along the hedge, within two lengths of the leader through splits of :24.72 and :49.74 on the firm course, the Bill Mott filly tipped out and took dead aim at the six-furlong mark in 1:13.39. She took a few strides to wind up in the stretch, but there was little suspense as she ultimately forged 1 1/4 lengths clear. After finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.32, Lady Lara returned $5.20 to win.
The 8-1 Hope Cross prevailed in a three-way photo for second over the 9-5 Sandiva, who had not raced since June, and the 45-1 Lori’s Store, who barnstormed from last for an eye-catching fourth. Both the third and fourth are worth following next time.
Lady Lara’s scorecard now stands at 22-5-4-4, $642,204. Group 2-placed as a juvenile in England, the daughter of Excellent Art was third to older males Custom Cut and Trade Storm in the 2014 Strensall (G3), and beat her elders next time in the Dubai Duty Free Cup at Newbury. Lady Lara made a successful U.S. debut in last fall’s Pebbles at Belmont and later annexed the March 28 Honey Fox (G2) at Gulfstream proper. Fourth to eventual Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) star Tepin in both the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) and Just a Game (G1), she was exiting a pair of placings in the Noble Damsel (G3) and Athenia (G3).
“She’s been unlucky if you look back, where she’s drawn the 13 and 14 hole several times,” Mott observed. “Today she was able to get an inside post so she could at least try to save a little ground around the first turn.
“She’ll go back to Payson and we’ll see how she’s training and go from there. There are two or three stakes at Gulfstream that she’ll be nominated to and we’ll just see how she’s doing.”
By the time the Tropical Turf was run two races later, the heavens had opened up, and a pelting rain occasionally obscured the field. But there was no obscuring the dominance of Lochte, who stalked early and sprinted late to rack up his third straight victory.
Trained by Marcus Vitali for Crossed Sabres Farm, the Medaglia d’Oro gelding is arguably in his best form since early 2014, when he shocked the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) at 39-1 and finished second in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. Lochte, who popped up to take the January 24 Tampa Bay (G3), turned in some useful efforts at Monmouth this summer, capped by a rallying third in the Cliff Hanger (G3). But since returning to South Florida, he’s really found himself with scores in the September 27 Mr. Steele at Gulfstream and the October 25 Spider John here at GPW.
With Matthew Rispoli back aboard, Lochte was parked in third through pedestrian splits of :25.37, :53.19 and 1:18.87. The course was still labeled firm, but there was plenty of water on top, making for tough conditions for anyone not enjoying the splash.
Lochte, named for the Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer, was right in his element. Ranging alongside new leader Flashlight turning for home, he stroked four lengths clear in a final time of 1:50.95 (yes, that’s what it says) for 1 1/16 miles.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better trip,” Rispoli said. “I kind of just stayed in the best part of the track which was the three path, it seemed like. I just sat against him the whole way and coming to the three-eighths pole, I felt like I was driving a Ferrari to tell you the truth.”
“I wasn’t too afraid of the wet turf,” Vitali said. “He’ll like a wet turf, this horse. This was a little more than wet.
“He broke good and had a good trip. That’s my theory, I tell you guys every time. Trip, trip, trip. Everything went his way today.”
All Included, the 7-5 favorite, was a one-paced fifth, and Kharafa never got involved in sixth.
“It was unbelievable,” jockey Javier Castellano said of the deluge. “It was crazy. It’s nothing we can control. It’s part of the game and you have to go with the flow.
“Unfortunately, it poured so hard. The track was good, but the water was right on top because it didn’t have a chance to go all the way down. It rained so hard in such a short time. The horses were splashing and most of the horses didn’t like it much. My horse, he likes it soft, don’t get me wrong, but not that kind of soft.”
The remaining turf race on the card, the 8TH, was switched to the main track.
Lochte, who furnished $8 to win, now sports a line of 32-9-5-6, $755,767. A $475,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling, he failed to cut the mustard for Darley and Kiaran McLaughlin. His current connections snapped him up for $60,000, at the same venue’s Fall Mixed and Horses of Racing Age Sale in October 2013.
Photos courtesy Adam Coglianese Photography, Lady Lara (top) by Kenny Martin and Lochte by Lauren King.