01/06/2016 1:22PM

2015 Eclipse Awards: La Verdad

Barbara D. Livingston
Few horses in recent seasons have combined the pure speed, admirable consistency, and indisputable class that La Verdad put on display throughout her 24-race career.

In 2015, La Verdad was a genuine star in the North American filly-and-mare sprint division, finishing first in six of eight starts while also running second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Bred by Eklektikos Stable and owned by the Lady Sheila Stable of Sheila Rosenblum, La Verdad owned an extraordinary turn of foot that often made her uncatchable, as she would fly out of the starting gate as the opposition gave futile chase. The daughter of Yes It’s True began her 5-year-old campaign on April 18, easily winning the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct before wheeling back four weeks later to capture the Grade 3 Vagrancy at Belmont Park.

Trainer Linda Rice then ran La Verdad against fellow New York-breds, as the mare easily won an ungraded stakes June 28 at Belmont. For her career, La Verdad went 9 for 10 in statebred company, with the only defeat coming in her career debut.

La Verdad then won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss on July 29 at Saratoga in one of her finest performances – although nearly four months later, it was announced by the New York Racing Association that La Verdad had been disqualified from the victory because of a medication violation, a finding disputed by Rice.

Nearly two months after the Honorable Miss, La Verdad returned to win the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Belmont Park as an odds-on favorite, holding off Wavell Avenue by a half-length.

Leading up to the Oct. 31 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, Rice took the unconventional step of using a prep race just one week beforehand, sending out La Verdad to an easy score over New York-breds in the Oct. 24 Iroquois Stakes at Belmont. The move ultimately was justified: La Verdad put in a huge effort in the Filly and Mare Sprint, which is run at seven furlongs, a distance long maintained by Rice to be a bit longer than preferred. La Verdad, a $100,000 supplement to the $1 million race, set the pace and shook off several challenges, but she was unable to withstand the late surge of Wavell Avenue when second by 1 3/4 lengths.

“What a performance,” Rosenblum told the Blood-Horse. “She ran some hell of a race. We were thrilled to take second.” The year ended Nov. 26 with a sixth-place finish in the Fall Highweight at Aqueduct, where La Verdad failed to make the early lead while carrying 127 pounds and facing male rivals.

La Verdad was ridden throughout a career that began in March 2013 by Jose Ortiz, except for on two occasions, when Ortiz’s brother, Irad, filled in.

For 2015, La Verdad officially won five of eight starts and earned $722,500, bringing her career totals to 15 wins from 24 starts and $1,503,200. The mare was withdrawn from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale in November and was going to be retired before Rosenblum and Rice reconsidered, as La Verdad is now expected to make her final career start in the Feb. 13 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park before going to the breeding shed.