09/28/2013 4:50PM

Flower Bowl: Slow pace helps Laughing handle distance

Tom Keyser
Laughing (right), ridden by Jose Lezcano, heads a one-two finish for owner Richard Santulli and trainer Alan Goldberg in the Flower Bowl Invitational.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The question regarding Laughing entering Saturday’s Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park was her ability to get the 1 1/4 miles.

Able to get away with a ridiculous soft early pace - she was loose on the lead through six furlongs in 1:16.02 under Jose Lezcano - Laughing had no trouble with the distance, holding off her stablemate Tannery by one-half length to win the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational. Both horses are owned by Richard Santulli and trained by Alan Goldberg.

Though the win earned Laughing an entry-fees paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, Laughing is unlikely to run in that race. First, she would have to be supplemented for a fee of $100,000.

But the money isn’t the real reason Laughing wouldn’t go cross-country to run.

“She’s a terrible shipper,” Santulli said. “We have a buddy that goes on the van when she comes here. We’d love to run but you wouldn’t want to do anything to get her upset.”

Goldberg, whose stable is based at a training center in Colts Neck, N.J., left the door ajar for a Breeders’ Cup bid.

“We’ll sit down and mull it over,” Goldberg said.

Tannery is also not Breeders’ Cup nominated. Her goal, according to Goldberg, is the $500,000 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine at 1 1/4 miles or the $1 million Pattison Canadian International at 1 1/2 miles against males the same day.

Laughing, a 5-year-old daughter of Dansili, added the Flower Bowl to victories in the Grade 1 Diana, Grade 2 Ballston Spa, and Grade 3 Eatontown earlier this year. That resume, Santulli and Goldberg believe, could be enough to make Laughing the North American champion female turf horse.

“She’s won two Grade 1’s, a Grade 2 and a Grade 3,” Santulli said. “I mean, who’s done better?”

“As far as anybody who’s run, I don’t think there’s anybody who has done what she’s done,” Goldberg said.

Laughing always does it on the front end.

Under Lezcano, riding his first card since breaking his wrist at Saratoga on Aug. 25, Laughing was on an uncontested lead through a quarter in 25.68 seconds, a half-mile in 51.46 and six furlongs in 1:16.02.

“She’s better at a mile and a quarter when they go 1:16,” Goldberg joked. “But there really wasn’t any pace in the race.”

Tannery who was seventh after six furlongs, came with a run in the stretch at her stablemate, but could not catch her while finishing a neck in front of Mystical Star.

“I never run an entry - ever - even in a claiming race, but they were both doing so well,” Goldberg said.

Laughing covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.34 and returned $3.20 as the 3-5 favorite.

“She broke perfect and she went very comfortable the whole way,” Lezcano said. “When I asked, she gave me the kick I needed to win the race. … I think this was her best race.”

Santulli said while Laughing would likely skip the Breeders’ Cup, he did indicate that she would run again next year.