11/21/2015 4:18PM

Lady Lara prevails in My Charmer Handicap

Lauren King
Lady Lara, ridden by Jose Lezcano, scores by 1 1/4 lengths in the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap on Saturday.

MIAMI – Lady Lara parlayed a perfect trip under jockey Jose Lezcano into a popular 1 1/4-length victory over Hope Cross and Sandiva in Saturday’s $100,000 My Charmer Handicap at Gulfstream Park West.

Reserved within easy distance and saving ground just off a relatively slow pace set by Pink Poppy over the firm turf course, Lady Lara eased out to commence her bid into the stretch, readily overtook the leader near the eighth pole, and won going away.

Hope Cross also saved ground into the stretch, split rivals nearing midstretch, and narrowly outfinished Sandiva to finish second. Sandiva raced close up from the outset but lacked the necessary late response while making her first start in nearly six months and just outlasting the late-running Lori’s Store to be third.

The win was the first in a Grade 3 race for Lady Lara, who also won the Grade 2 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park at the expense of Sandiva in March.

Trained by Bill Mott for Swettenham Stud, Lady Lara paid $5.40 after completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.32.

“The timing from her last race worked out well,” said Mott. “We shipped her down here, and we weren’t sure if we were going to run her. She took the ship well and seemed like she looked good and was training good, so we decided to go ahead and run.

“After we got around the first turn, it was great. She got around the first turn in good order, and she got a good post. She’s been unlucky, if you look back, where she’s drawn the 13 and 14 hole several times. Today, she was able to get an inside post so she could at least try to save a little ground around the first turn.”

Javier Castellano, who rode Sandiva for trainer Todd Pletcher, said his filly was just a bit flat at the end.

“I had a good trip,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think the filly struggled a little bit with the tight corners, especially at the three-eighths pole with the tight turn right there. Turning for home, she just came up a little flat. She hadn’t run in a while, and that concerned me a little bit. She’d been training so good, but you never know.”