02/21/2015 3:26PM

Irish Mission's win in The Very One may delay retirement

Barbara D. Livingston
The 6-year-old mare Irish Mission, ridden by John Velazquez, may get to run one more race next month after winning Saturday's The Very One Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Perhaps one good encore deserves another, because just as she’s getting set to be sent off to the breeding shed, Irish Mission is racing in the best form of her career.

 Irish Mission will be bred this spring. Her trip to Kentucky was postponed so that she could run on Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and she responded by winning her second straight race and third in her last five starts. In the process, she may have delayed her retirement by another race.

 “It’ll be up to Mr. Evans,” trainer Christophe Clement said, referring to owner Robert Evans, “but she can either go to Kentucky next week, where it’s very cold, awful weather, or she can stay here in the sunshine and run in the Orchid,” which is here on March 28.

 Irish Mission ($5.80), the second choice, got a perfect trip under jockey John Velazquez, who settled Irish Mission just behind and outside of early leader Riposte, who took the field through a slow pace that was posted as 1:20.12 for six furlongs.

 Irish Mission moved to engage Riposte heading into the lane, then got the best of that rival and edged clear late to win by 1 1/2 lengths while completing 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:18.66, meaning Irish Mission ran her final three furlongs in about 35 seconds.

 Riposte, the 9-5 favorite, held second by a neck over Tabreed, who is also trained by Clement. Caroline Thomas was another neck back in fourth and was followed, in order, by Bitty Kitty, Kitten’s Point, Always Kitten, and Meri Shika.

 Irish Mission, 6, is a daughter of Giant’s Causeway. She has now won 7 of 29 starts and has earned more than $1.3 million.

Clement seems as though he’s hoping Irish Mission will get a chance to add to those totals in the Orchid.

“She loves it here. She gets turned out every day for two hours at Payson Park,” Clement said, referring to the training center where he is based in the winter. “She blossoms over the winter. She’s easier now than ever to train.”