07/10/2016 3:46PM

Guapaza's victory in River Memories is her first U.S. win

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ELMONT, N.Y. _ After three good, albeit losing, efforts in the U.S., the Chilean-bred Guapaza notched her first win here, taking Sunday’s $95,000 River Memories Stakes by a half-length at Belmont Park.

Sitting second behind a glacial pace established by Songoficeandfire, Guapaza, under Javier Castellano, outfinished her and Trophee; Trophee edged Songoficeandfire by a head for second. Villa Savoye was last of the four. Swear by It scratched after running third in Saturday’s Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park.

It was Guapaza’s seventh career win from 21 career starts. It was her first win in this country after two thirds and a second in a trio of graded events. All of her losses came against horses based in her own barn.

“It was nice to get a ‘W,’ she’s been very consistent, she’s run well in each of her starts for us,” said Chad Brown, who trains Guapaza for Don Alberto Stable. “I thought this was a good option to learn something about her. I know it was only a listed race and the purse wasn’t huge, but can we get her doing something else where she’s not always running in such a tough division of mares from a mile and an eighth to a mile and a quarter? She passed the first test; it definitely opens up some doors.”

On paper, it looked as though Guapaza was going to be on the lead. But Jose Lezcano put Songoficeandfire on the lead and she maintained a length or so advantage over Guapaza through posted fractions of 25.96 seconds for the quarter, 52.88 for the half, 1:21.04 for six furlongs and 1:46.91 for a mile.
The race turned into a sprint from the quarter-pole home and Guapaza was the fastest. She covered the 1 1/2 miles over firm turf in a posted time of 2:33.49 and returned $3.60 to win.

“I’m the best horse in the race, if I put her on the lead everybody kind of chases me and maybe I’m not going to finish,” Castellano said. “I broke well. Lezcano wanted to dictate the pace, so I let him go and I just sit behind that horse and kept tracking. I put her in a better spot and from there she responded very well.”

Though Brown did not mention a definitive next spot, the Grade 3 $200,000 Waya Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on Aug. 6 at Saratoga could be next.