11/04/2015 1:49PM

Lady Sabelia runs big in comeback

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Lady Sabelia, under Horacio Karamanos, earned a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure for winning last Sunday's Pumpkin Pie at Belmont Park.

Lady Sabelia returned from a five-month layoff with a vengeance Sunday at Belmont Park, winning the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie Stakes by more than seven lengths. The return to form was striking, as her final two races of the spring had not been up to par.

Lady Sabelia came into her own during the second half of 2014. When she scored her biggest career victory last February in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park, it was her sixth win from her previous seven starts.

But then she went to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Madison, ran off on the lead, and tired to finish last. In the $100,000 Skipat Stakes at Pimlico in May, she again sprinted clear but flattened out to finish second at 3-5.

At that point, trainer Robin Graham decided to give her the summer off. Graham kept Lady Sabelia in her Laurel barn and began working to get her to rate.

“Fairly early in her career, she would come from off the pace, but then she started going to the front in some of her races,” Graham said. “The competition was less than she was, really, and there was no other early speed. She would just get out there and go as fast as she can. But that’s what killed us in the Madison.”

On Sunday, Lady Sabelia almost looked dull early, racing fifth of seven while about four lengths off the pace. But when jockey Horacio Karamanos wheeled her to the outside nearing the stretch, she took off, quickly leaving the four front-runners in her wake.

She covered six furlongs in 1:09.03, got her final eighth in 11.67 seconds, and earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 101.

“I put a ring bit on her, which is supposed to give the rider more control in directing her, even though I think it’s half mental with the riders really,” Graham said. “The other thing I did, or didn’t do, was normally I would bring a horse coming off a layoff to the gate and school them. But I didn’t do that with her. I was actually hoping she would get left a little bit and that would take care of things, and that’s what happened. Horacio said once he got her covered up, she relaxed perfectly.”

A 5-year-old daughter of Majestic Warrior owned and bred by Frank and Virginia Wright, Lady Sabelia will make her next start at Laurel on Dec. 5 in the $100,000 Willa On the Move Stakes, a race she won last year.

“She might be bred next year, or she might be kept in training,” Graham said. “We’ll just see how she does, and the Wrights and I will make a decision. I would love to get her back to the Fritchie.”