07/09/2017 5:25PM

Apple Betty changes tactics for River Memories win

Chelsea Durand
Apple Betty paid $5.90 in winning the River Memories Stakes.

ELMONT,  N.Y. - After twice unsuccessfully trying to rate Apple Betty, trainer Shug McGaughey decided to have jockey John Velazquez put the 4-year-old Irish-bred filly on the lead in Sunday's $100,000 River Memories Stakes at Belmont Park.

The change in tactics paid off handsomely as Apple Betty was able to make the lead rather easily under Velazquez and carried her speed all the way to a half-length victory in the River Memories. In a blanket finish for second, Summersault got second by a nose over Lottie, who was third by a neck over Desiree Clary.

The win was the fourth from 12 starts for Apple Betty, a daughter of Galileo owned by Joe Allen. Her last victory came in the Prix Caravelle, a listed race in France in April 2016.

Last fall, Apple Betty came to the U.S. and was beaten a nose in the Grade 3 Dowager at Keeneland after making the lead in midstretch.

She was then transferred to McGaughey. In two starts this year, Apple Betty finished third behind Sea Calisi in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay and seventh behind Hawksmoor in the Grade 2 New York. In those races, both at Belmont, Apple Betty was rated off of horses.

Velazquez was able to secure a clear lead Sunday by running an opening quarter in 25.04 seconds, a half-mile in 51.05 and six furlongs in 1:16.78.

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"We decided we were just going to let her run her race today," McGaughey said. "I was looking at the screen and the clock at the same time hoping he'd gotten her slowed down pretty good. I think that's what she wants, leave her alone. The first two times I was messing with her and she didn't finish the way I would have liked."

It looked like the competition may have been gaining on Apple Betty in the stretch, but she had plenty left with which to finish and got the job done.

Apple Betty covered the 1 1/2 miles over firm turf in 2:27.94 and returned $5.90 as the favorite.

"There  wasn't much speed, so we left her alone wherever she was comfortable," said John Velazquez, who won three races on Sunday's card. "And then she finished up really well."

McGaughey said he would most likely point Apple Betty to the Grade 3, $200,000 Waya Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 5.