Walk Close asserts herself in Modesty
Highland Yard's Walk Close emerged as a contender for the August 15 Beverly D. (G1) by capturing Saturday's course-and-distance prep, the $100,000 Modesty H. (G3) at Arlington. Patiently handled by James Graham, the Christophe Clement filly wore down Mango Diva to register her first graded win. The top two each went off at 9-2.
Walk Close, a daughter of Tapit and Grade 1-placed multiple stakes victress Spring Awakening, has been a fairly consistent type. A photo-finish winner of the one-mile Wild Applause at Belmont last summer, the bay was also third in the Pebbles and fourth in both the Tenski and Sands Point (G2) at three. Walk Close made her four-year-old debut in the April 18 Santa Barbara H. (G3) over 1 1/4 miles, where she ran evenly in fourth, but she improved last time when a fast-finishing third in the May 16 Keertana at Churchill.
The Keertana got a form boost a few minutes earlier on Saturday when the victorious Ceisteach, who beat Walk Close all of a half-length, came back to take the Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3) at Delaware Park.
And as a May 1 foal, Walk Close could just be beginning to reach her peak now. With the Modesty marking her 10th career start, there could be still more to come from the $180,000 Keeneland September yearling from the prolific family of Editor's Note, Hold That Tiger, Hennessy and Family Style. Closer up in the line, one finds Micromanage and Indescribable, both of whom improved with age.
Anchored in a ground-saving seventh early, Walk Close raced about five or six lengths off the pace carved out by the 44-1 Seeking Treasure through splits of :24.02, :49.22 and 1:13.71 on the good course. Mango Diva, nestled just behind the leader, was the first to peel out and strike at the top of the stretch.
But Walk Close was deftly advancing in her slipstream. Angling out, she collared Mango Diva by a half-length and negotiated 1 3/16 miles in 1:57.08. Gaga A, the 3-1 favorite, rolled up ominously on the outside but settled for third. Riposte, despite the blinkers, still hasn't recaptured her form from 2014 and wound up fourth, and Overheard rallied from last for fifth.
Bred by Brookdale Farm, Jack Swain and Jon and Sarah Kelly in Kentucky, Walk Close now sports a mark of 10-4-0-2, $279,788.
Jockey James Graham (Walk Close): "Had a beautiful trip and followed the pace around there, picked up the spread to home and did it well. The ground is a little soft but she did it the right way. She's a really nice filly."
Jockey Florent Geroux (Mango Diva): "It was a great trip. I was exactly where I wanted to be I just got outkicked at the end. She was fine over the ground."
Assistant trainer Joss Saville (Mango Diva): "I was pleased with that. It was encouraging. I think she did everything well, she just got caught. She broke nicely and relaxed and was in good position the whole time. She may like a little quicker ground. We would like to come back here for the Beverly D."
Jockey Flavien Prat (Gaga A): "We had a good trip, but she is better when the ground is faster."
Trainer Neil Drysdale (Gaga A): "I think she ran well. She was a bit close and I think she was moving well. She may be a little better on faster ground."
Jockey Jose Lezcano (Riposte): "She gave me a good race. She stayed one pace, I never really got a chance to get going. But I still thought it was a good race."
Jockey Robby Albarado (Overheard): "I was right behind the eventual winner, and we had a perfect, clean trip. I'm not sure she liked the soft going because she didn't quicken for me like she has done in her previous races."
Photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos.