04/02/2016 5:59PM

Photo Call alters tactics to take Orchid Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Javier Castellano utilizes Photo Call's speed to capture the Grade 3 Orchid.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A change in tactics led to a change of fortune for Photo Call, who made the lead soon after the start and cruised to a three-quarter length victory over Songoficeandfire in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Orchid Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Songoficeandfire, last early and squeezed between horses at the top of the stretch, came home quickly under Junior Alvarado to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths over Achnaha, who got third by a neck over Maximova.

Photo Call, an Irish-bred a 5-year-old daughter of Galileo, was making her second start for trainer Todd Pletcher following the purchase of this mare for $3 million by Teresa Viola Racing Stable at the Keeneland November bloodstock sale last November.

In her first start for Viola and Pletcher, Photo Call finished fourth behind Tepin in the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. That day, Pletcher had Javier Castellano take a hold of her and place her behind horses. Saturday, Pletcher wanted Castellano to have her more free-running and let her place herself early.

Quiet Kitten broke on top, but coming through the stretch the first time, Photo Call assumed the lead. She ran a half-mile in 49.89 seconds, six furlongs in 1:15.00, a mile in 1:38.69, and she covered 1 3/8 miles in 2:16.38. Photo Call returned $4 as the even-money favorite.

“We didn’t want to fight her,” Pletcher said. “Last time, I thought we tried to cover her up, we were able to cover up, and she was never able to relax. Plan A was if someone wanted to go we’d try to tuck in, but if she wasn’t turned off to not fight her. Javier executed Plan B perfectly.”

Said Castellano:  “I wanted to rate, that was my goal, but unfortunately, she wouldn’t rate. She’s not that kind of horse. You need to let her run.”

Photo Call, who won the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive last year when trained by Graham Motion, now has five wins from 16 starts.

Pletcher said Photo Call would likely move to New York and focus on distance races such as the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay and/or the Grade 2, $500,000 New York Stakes, both at Belmont Park.