06/17/2008 11:00PM

Patience paying off for Orinoquia


MIAMI - Orinoquia was the only horse to win a stakes race at Calder last Saturday not trained by a guy named Wolfson.

Orinoquia, a 3-year-old filly by Whywhywhy, rallied from far back to an easy victory in the $100,000 Leave Me Alone Stakes for trainer Rudolfo Garcia. The win was the second stakes victory in a row for the improving Orinoquia, who now moves on to the Grade 3 Azalea Stakes on July 12.

"I always believed she could be a top filly, especially here at Calder, after she ran that big race last winter at Gulfstream Park," Garcia said, referring to Orinoquia's third-place finish in the Grade 2 Old Hat Stakes in her 3-year-old debut. "When she won her earlier races, she did so from near the pace. But I decided that day if she was going to have any chance, she needed to stay back and make one move, and that's the style she's adapted ever since."

Garcia credits jockey Eduardo Nunez for much of Orinoquia's recent success.

"I picked Nunez when we returned to Calder, because I was looking for a rider who would stay back and be patient and there aren't many jockeys of that type here," Garcia said. "And he did an absolutely perfect job in both races. She just seems so comfortable back there during the early part of her races. Then she makes a middle move and finally explodes through the stretch."

Garcia understands things will be tougher in the Azalea.

"I'm sure we'll have some horses shipping from up north, but the timing is perfect and it's always good to be running in your own back yard," he said.

Garcia is also patiently awaiting the return of his promising but lightly raced 3-year-old prospect White Shoes, an impressive maiden winner going two turns here in his second start at 2.

"I was trying to be patient with him this winter," Garcia said. "He was training extremely well, then suffered an injury, a small thing, but if we had pressed on to make it for some of the bigger 3-year-old races, he could have really started going in the wrong direction."

White Shoes is scheduled to return to training in the middle of July.

Garcia has 36 horses stabled at Calder and said he never considered leaving town, even after purses were drastically reduced at the start of the meet.

"My family is here and it's tough to leave," Garcia said. "Right now, my owners and I have decided to wait until slots come around and see what effect they have on purses. If they are still anywhere near where they are now in another year or so then we'll have to consider moving."

Awesome Alexandra tops feature

Wolfson, who won four stakes Saturday, appears to have Friday's main event at his mercy, with Awesome Alexandra expected to go postward as a heavy favorite in a starter allowance race for fillies and mares on the turf.

Awesome Alexandra is coming off easy victories against higher-priced starter allowance opposition in each of her last two starts, winning those races by a combined 12 3/4 lengths. The switch from dirt to grass figures to prove no obstacle for the versatile filly, who has won 2 of 3 career tries on turf, including an entry-level allowance race at Gulfstream.

Awesome Alexandra, a five-time winner this year, is not the only member of the field having a big season. Precisely That has captured 4 of her last 5 starts, although she's yet to prove her mettle on turf, having finished off the board in her only previous start on grass.

Claimed by trainer Bill White for $25,000 on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream, Precisely That is perfect in two starts at this meet, with both wins coming against similar starter allowance competition on the main track.