01/09/2016 2:50PM

La Verdad cruises to victory in Interborough


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Owner Sheila Rosenblum and trainer Linda Rice didn’t want their final memory of La Verdad on the track be a dull sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap last Thanksgiving.

So, before heading to the breeding shed and a pending date with Medaglia d’Oro, La Verdad was kept in training to see if she would be amenable to another race or two.

Her training indicated to Rice she would be agreeable to at least one more start and now her connections have a better way to remember the 6-year-old mare.

Living up to her 2-5 status, La Verdad put away an early pace challenge from Parx invader Fat Kat and cruised to a 2 3/4-length victory Saturday in the $100,000 Interborough Stakes at Aqueduct. Dancing House, in her first start since April, out-finished Room for Me by a length to be second.

Princess Violet was fourth, followed by Jubilant Vision and Fat Kat. Willet was scratched to run in a New York-bred allowance race next Thursday.

For La Verdad, a New York-bred daughter of Yes It’s True, the win was her 16th from 25 career starts. It was her 11th stakes victory, and she pushed her lifetime earnings to $1,563,200.

Under Jose Ortiz, La Verdad dueled outside of Fat Kat through a quarter in 23.22 seconds. By the time she went into the far turn, La Verdad left Fat Kat and never was seriously challenged. La Verdad completed six furlongs in 1:10.65 and returned $2.80 as the 2-5 favorite.

“I don’t break perfectly,” Ortiz said, adding that Fat Kat “got the jump on me. But little by little, I get there, and by the turn, I’m in front of her. I just take it easy because I knew [Fat Kat] was going to stop. By the three-eighths pole, she was there already, so I wait a little bit more, and around the turn, I let her go.”

Rosenblum hasn’t been able to let go of La Verdad. She withdrew her from the Fasig-Tipton sale last November, the day after La Verdad finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Rosenblum decided to race La Verdad against males in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight – hoping perhaps a win might help her seal La Verdad an Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter – but La Verdad finished sixth.

“Amongst the females, she’s clearly one of the best sprinters in a long, long time, and that was just not a good way to end it,” Rosenblum said.

“She’s better than that,” Rice added.

Now, Rosenblum and Rice will decide whether to run La Verdad again or just have her go out a winner. The only race that would be considered is the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel on Feb. 13.

“There is something nice to go out this way,” Rosenblum said. “It’s quite special. But we’re going to have discussions after we see how she comes out of this.”

If Rosenblum and Rice decide not to go on with La Verdad, they always could run her younger half-sister, Hot City Girl, in the Barbara Fritchie.

Regardless, La Verdad is involved in one more race. She is a finalist for the Eclipse Award for champion female sprinter, the results of which will be announced next Saturday in a ceremony at Gulfstream Park.