07/02/2016 6:59PM

Off the Tracks outshines stablemate Rachel's Valentina in Mother Goose

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Barbara D. Livingston
Off the Tracks, with Jose Ortiz riding, wins the Grade 1 Mother Goose by 3 1/2 lengths.

ELMONT, N.Y. - When your stablemate is as regally bred as is Rachel’s Valentina it is easy to get overshadowed. But Off the Tracks no longer needs to take a backseat to any 3-year-old filly in her barn after she recorded a  front-running 3 1/2-length victory over Lewis Bay in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s Valentina - the daughter of 2009 Mother Goose winner Rachel’s Alexandra - could only manage a fifth-place finish after stumbling and getting bumped at the start.

Off the Tracks, a daughter of Curlin, is now 4 for 6. She joined a select group of fillies to win the Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga at 2 and the Mother Goose at 3. Cicada (1962-63), Meadow Star (1990-91), and Turnback the Alarm (1991-92) are the others.

Jose Ortiz rode Off the Tracks to victory. It was his first Grade 1 win of the year and his ninth stakes victory of this meet. He won three races on Saturday’s card and his 67 victories at this meet are 20 more than his brother Irad, who won four races on Saturday.

Off the Tracks gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fifth Mother Goose victory. He trails only his former boss, D. Wayne Lukas, who has six.

Off the Tracks came to Pletcher undefeated in three starts after majority interest in her was purchased by Newtown Anner Stud from J Stables earlier this year. She finished third in the Gulfstream Park Oaks - her first start around two turns - before running a good second to Carina Mia in the Grade 1 Acorn here just three weeks ago.

“I think she’s a filly that’s always shown big potential,” Pletcher said. “Everyone was sort of down on her after the Gulfstream Oaks but I actually thought she ran a sneaky good race that day. She was three wide throughout on a track that was playing inside speed and it was muddy. I thought she ran a really good race in the Acorn.”

Pletcher wasn’t convinced how the Mother Goose would be run but he thought there was “a decent chance” Off the Tracks would be on the lead.

Off the Tracks was on the lead, but had to run fractions of 22.79 seconds for the quarter-mile and 45.53 for the half-mile to get there. She was prompted by Mom’s On Strike.

“She relaxed good after the first eighth of a mile. She was going pretty fast but she was going relaxed,” Ortiz said. “When we passed the three-eighths pole she pricked her ears a little bit and that gave me a lot of confidence.”

Off the Tracks ran six furlongs in 1:09.62 but kept going and though it looked like Lewis Bay might offer a challenge in the stretch that never materialized.

Off the Tracks covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.01 and returned $8.10 as the third choice in the seven-horse field.

“I was a little concerned going as fast as they were but she seemed like she was doing it comfortably, in a good rhythm,” Pletcher said. “Happy to see her have something left to finish up with.”

As happy as he was with Off the Tracks, Pletcher was disappointed with Rachel’s Valentina, last year’s Grade 1 Spinaway winner  who lost her fourth consecutive race. Rachel’s Valentina stumbled and was bumped by a stumbling Lewis Bay at the break, but neither Pletcher nor jockey John Velazquez used that as an excuse.

“She got back into a rhythm, she was going well, halfway down the backside I put her in the clear and that was it, she didn’t have anything to respond with,” Velazquez said. “If it was the stumble you’d know right away, but she was running well.”

Lewis Bay also recovered well after her stumble and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said he thought he was in a good spot when she moved into second turning for home.

“I looked behind me at the quarter pole, everybody’s riding and nobody had horse. I said ‘great,’ “ said Ortiz. “I wait, wait, wait I asked her and she fell apart. She just didn’t finish.”