10/18/2014 4:01PM

La Verdad confirms affinity for track in Iroquois

Barbara D. Livingston
La Verdad, ridden by Jose Ortiz, improves to 4 for 5 at Belmont Park by winning the Iroquois Stakes for fillies and mares.

ELMONT, N.Y. - With the disappointment of Saratoga now in the rear view mirror, La Verdad proved conclusively that she is back on top of her game by using her abundant speed to register a 1 1/4-length victory over Willet in Saturday’s $150,000 Iroquois Stakes at Belmont Park.

La Verdad, who has dominated New York-bred filly and mare sprinters for the last two seasons, finished off the board against open company in both the Grade 2 Honorable Miss and Grade 1 Ballerina this summer at Saratoga. But she rebounded with a sharp second-place effort in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom when returning to Belmont Park on Sep.  20, before finally getting back to the winner’s circle on Saturday.

Breaking alertly from her outside post under regular ride Jose Ortiz, La Verdad dueled briefly with Irish Whisper before taking control leaving the backstretch. She was never seriously menaced thereafter, holding safe a belated surge from Willet while tiring slightly during the latter stages of the 6 ½-furlong Iroquois.

Willet, who finished second behind La Verdad this past spring in the Dancing Renee Stakes and a length behind the same nemesis when third in the Gallant Bloom, dropped well off the pace before finishing best of all along the inside to easily prove second best. Risky Rachel made a mild run at the winner turning for home before weakening to be third, another 2 1/4 lengths behind Willet.

La Verdad, a 4-year-old daughter of Yes It’s True, is trained by Linda Rice for the Lady Sheila Stable. The victory was her sixth straight against statebreds and fourth in five starts at Belmont. She completed the distance in 1:17.13 and paid $3.40.

La Verdad had been considered for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but would have had to be supplemented at a cost of $100,000 while also stretching out to seven furlongs, a distance Rice said she believes is a bit beyond her comfort zone.

“It’s nice to get her back to the winner’s circle,” said Rice. “She obviously likes Belmont, and maybe just isn’t that fond of Saratoga. She bled on me in the Honorable Miss so I had to back off her training, and she got a little heavy on me. I ran her back in the Ballerina even though she really doesn’t want to go seven-eighths, and she certainly didn’t want to when she was heavy. I was struggling to get enough training into her. But it’s certainly good to have her back here at Belmont.”

Ortiz came back an hour later to register an even easier victory aboard the promising 3-year-old filly Princess Violet, who cruised to a convincing 5 1/2-length triumph over Flipcup in the $250,000 Empire Distaff. Carameaway finished a tiring third.    

Princess Violet was stretching out beyond 6 1/2 furlongs for only the second time in her career in the o1 1/16-mile Empire Distaff. She finished a distant second behind Untapable in her first attempt at the distance earlier this season in the Mother Goose.

Ortiz handled Princess Violet with complete confidence, rating her behind the early leaders before swinging wide turning for home and readily taking command at the top of the stretch. Princess Violet quickly opened a commanding advantage and was never seriously threatened thereafter.

The victory was the second in less than two weeks for Princess Violet, a homebred daughter of Officer owned by Barry Schwartz who defeated open allowance company here on Oct. 5. She returned $4.70 as the favorite in a field of nine New York- bred fillies and mares.  

“That was sweet,” said trainer Mike Hushion. “She relaxed better than ever today and when he [Ortiz] stepped on the gas, she came.  The distance is probably not what she’s wanted all along, but after today, two turns are certainly not out of the question.   We kind of fell into this the way she ran so good last time. Two weeks, going from short to long, I kind of love that.”