05/02/2008 11:00PM

Game Face rides rail to victory

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Game Face, taking advantage of a sharp pace that softened up the front-runners and a clever ride from John Velazquez, came up the rail and then outdueled Keep the Peace in the final furlong to earn a neck victory in the Grade 3, $168,450 La Troienne Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Tiz to Dream, a 14-1 shot, was another two lengths back in third. Alina, Secret Gypsy, Minewander, and Color Me Up completed the order of finish. Both American County and Informed Decision were scratched earlier in the day.

Game Face, trained by Todd Pletcher, completed 7 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:28.44.

Game Face ($5.60), the favorite, rated just behind the early leaders in fourth as Secret Gypsy and Keep the Peace carved out swift fractions of 22.62 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 44.96 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:08.89 for six furlongs.

That swift pace benefitted Game Face and Velazquez, who were able to wait and then pounce. Game Face came through a narrow opening along the rail a furlong out, putting her, Keep the Peace, and Secret Gypsy three abreast. Secret Gypsy, making her first start since setting a track record for 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga in her debut in August, was the first of the three to yield while racing between horses.

Keep the Peace, who had gone right with Secret Gypsy from the start, tried valiantly to hold off Game Face but could not quite do it.

Game Face, owned by Zabeel Racing International, has now won three times in six starts. She captured the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January before finishing second to Bsharpsonata as the odds-on favorite in the Davona Dale. After that, Pletcher freshened Game Face and brought her into the La Troienne off a two-month layoff.