12/17/2016 3:23PM

Eskenformoney finally gets first graded stakes victory

Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photos
Eskenformoney became a graded stakes winner in her sixth attempt.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Eskenformoney finally got her much-deserved first graded stakes victory by wearing down an embattled and dead game Curlin’s Approval to register a three-quarter-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 3 Rampart at Gulfstream Park.

Eskenformoney, a daughter of Eskendereya owned by Star Ladies Racing, had been graded stakes-placed five times in her career going into her 4-year-old finale. Finally breaking through after tripping out beautifully under regular rider Javier Castellano, who kept her perfectly placed behind Curlin’s Approval and her own stablemate Genre in the 1 1/16-mile Rampart.

Curlin’s Approval and Genre slugged it out on the lead through splits of 23,53, 45.64 and 1:09.71 for the opening six furlongs, with Eskenformoney poised to strike while being kept little more than a length off the pace from the outset. Castellano sent Eskenformoney up three wide to challenge the embattled leaders turning into the stretch, his filly finally wearing down Curlin’s Approval inside the eighth pole before maintaining a safe advantage to the end.

Curlin’s Approval, who surprisingly went postward as the odds-on, 1-2 favorite, turned in a huge effort in defeat in her two-turn debut. She withstood the early challenge from Genre, then briefly resisted the winner before ultimately succumbing near the end. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to the tiring Genre in third.

Eskenformoney paid $13.20 after negotiating the distance in 1:35.47 over a fast track.

“Talking to Johnny and Javier before the race, they said it looks like you wanted to be involved early,” Pletcher said. “The strategy was to come out running with both of them, and Genre just came out showing a little more natural speed. But Javier made a conscious effort to stay as close as he could, and it worked out.”

Pletcher said he was happy Eskenformoney finally became a graded stakes winner after several frustrating near misses at 3 and 4.

“It was nice to see, she really deserved it,” Pletcher said. “She knocked on the door several times this summer and just missed, and did so as a 3-year-old. She seems to like Gulfstream, she’s always seemed to run well here, and it was good to see her finally pick up a graded win.”