05/16/2008 11:00PM

Roshani holds off Lady Digby


BALTIMORE – Roshani, under John Velazquez, fended off a midstretch challenge from Lady Digby and then withstood a stewards’ inquiry and jockey’s objection to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Gallorette Handicap by a half-length Saturday at Pimlico.

Lady Digby finished second by 4 1/2 lengths over Valbenny. Stormy West and Le Cordon Blue completed the order of finish. Debbie Sue and Saint Pegasus scratched.

Roshani stalked Le Cordon Bleu through pedestrian fractions of 25.41 seconds and 50.28 before taking over midway around the far turn and running three-quarters in 1:15.09.

Roshani maintained a one-length lead in midstretch, but Lady Digby, under Jeremy Rose, was rallying. Velazquez smacked Roshani left-handed and she drifted toward Lady Digby. The two appeared to brush, though Velazquez said that was not the case. Roshani ($4.40), who continued to take Lady Digby out, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:49.08 over good turf.

“She got to the lead and she looked at the crowd and she kind of slowed down, so I moved out to the other horse right next to him,” Velazquez said. “I never touched him. The more he moved out the more I went to him because my horse was concentrating better when she had somebody next to her, but I never touched him.”

Roshani is now 5 for 8 on the turf and 6 for 11 overall for owner Ben McElroy.

“She’s done nothing wrong her whole life; she’s just a very, very high quality filly that shows up and runs hard every time,” Pletcher said. “She’s a real pleasure to have in the barn.”

Pletcher said the Grade 1 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes Day is possible for Roshani’s next start.