01/06/2015 1:34PM

2014 Eclipse Awards: Sweet Reason

Tom Keyser

It has become something of a rarity for a Thoroughbred to win a Grade 1 stakes at 2 and then come back and do it again the following year. Sweet Reason was sufficiently talented and durable to do so, and the daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense earned a spot among the Eclipse Award finalists in the 3-year-old filly division.

Sweet Reason burst onto the scene with two lengthy victories at Saratoga for Treadway Racing Stable, including a scintillating score in the Grade 1 Spinaway with a Beyer Speed Figure of 98 that was the fastest race by a juvenile filly in 2013.

After tough trips as the favorite in the Frizette and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Sweet Reason started her 3-year-old season in a late-winter allowance race on Aqueduct’s inner track. Sent off at 15 cents to the dollar, she gave her many backers some anxious moments while being floated very wide into the stretch but uncorked a final quarter-mile in less than 24 seconds to win by a well-measured half-length under Irad Ortiz Jr., who would pilot the Keeneland sales graduate through the entire year.

“It was a little nail-biting because you aren’t expecting it to be quite that close, but I thought it was great because she learned to gradually pick it up and sit there next to horses,” said trainer Leah Gyarmati.

Sweet Reason followed with a third-place finish in the Gazelle in April, after which she was given two months off.

“I didn’t like how she was looking,” Gyarmati said. “I pulled some blood on her. There were little things off, nothing major, probably just wear and tear from the winter. We just did a lot of work on that, lots of vitamins.”

Refreshed and rejuvenated, Sweet Reason was back to her best form for the Grade 1, $750,000 Acorn Stakes on June 7. After racing far back early in the 13-horse field, she rallied into contention around the turn and then altered course with a determined stretch run to get up in the closing yards.

“Everything turned out perfectly,” said Ortiz. “I waited, waited, waited, and turned the corner and saved all the ground I could. Then, I got clear, and she took off.”

Eight weeks later, Sweet Reason returned in the Test Stakes and overcame a stumble at the start to get up in time with another of her patented stretch runs, improving to three wins from as many starts at the fabled Spa. In posting her third Grade 1 triumph, she surpassed $1 million in earnings and upped her record in New York to 5-1-1 from 7 career starts.

“This is what you dream of, having a filly like her,” said Gyarmati. “Some people are lucky enough to have several of them. I’m thankful to have the one. You get lucky and a horse pops up and wins a big race – that happens here and there. But to keep going with it, the consistency, and to develop on it and have her get better and come back and do it again, it shows how special she is. She might be one of those horses that is a once-in-a-lifetime horse for a trainer.”

Sweet Reason then finished a gallant second to the heavily favored Untapable in the Cotillion, during which she was struck in the right eye by a foreign object.

The eye became ulcerated, and the filly missed about 10 days of training, which likely compromised her form in an off-the-board finish against older rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.