07/21/2012 6:46PM

Saratoga: Questing runs away with CCA Oaks, is 2 for 2 since being switched to dirt

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Barbara D. Livingston
Despite drifting outward in the stretch, Questing had more than enough left to hold off Zo Inpressive (right).

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - After spending the majority of the first  year of her racing career on grass, it is probably safe to say Questing is not likely to return to the turf in the foreseeable future.

Benefitting from a perfectly judged ride by her young jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., and overcoming a little of her own immaturity through late stretch, Questing became a Grade 1 winner with a convincing 4 1/4-length decision over Zo Impressive in Saturday’s $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. In Lingerie, the 3-2 favorite, finished a non-threatening third.

Questing’s victory was the second straight in the CCA for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and Godolphin Stable, who won the race a year ago with It’s Tricky. Questing not only gave her 19-year-old rider the first Grade 1 win of his riding career but first graded stakes victory of any kind.

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Questing broke alertly from the rail but was outsprinted to the front by Yara who set a lively pace of 23.21 seconds and 47.65 for the opening half-mile of the nine-furlong CCA. Ortiz patiently allowed Questing to settle four lengths behind the leader before urging her to closer contention midway down the backstretch. Questing easily drew clear three furlongs from the wire, then increased her advantage despite drifting out badly through the final eighth of a mile.

Zo Impressive took a run at the winner entering the stretch but proved no match while easily best of the others. In Lingerie moved to within easy striking distance after six furlongs but failed to sustain her run.

Questing, who completed the distance in 1:50.30 over a fast but somewhat laboring track, paid $9.80.

“Great story, this filly didn’t run well on the turf twice this year so we switched her to the dirt and now she’s 2 for 2 for us on the dirt,” said McLaughlin. “We’re so proud to have her, and Irad rode an excellent race for a 19-year-old kid.”

McLaughlin said the original plan was to send Questing to the lead from her inside post.

“We thought we were faster than her [Yara] but we told Irad if she wants to go, let her go, and he rode a great race,” said McLaughlin. “She’s still a little green, she drifted out which was a little scary but she crossed the wire first, clearly, so we’ll work on that later.”