10/31/2015 1:51PM

Wavell Avenue comes charging to win Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

Debra A. Roma
Wavell Avenue, ridden by Joel Rosario, wins the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – When they met five weeks beforehand in New York, La Verdad was able to hold off an oncoming Wavell Avenue.

But not this time – and not on a far bigger stage.

Given an additional half-furlong, and with La Verdad having been weakened by a couple of earlier challenges, Wavell Avenue stormed down the center of the track to turn the tables in the ninth running of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Saturday at Keeneland.

La Verdad, running back on just six days’ rest, held second in the field of 14, reversing the exacta of the 6 1/2-furlong Gallant Bloom on Sept. 26 at Belmont Park.

Wavell Avenue, owned by a partnership led by Michael Dubb, returned $22 after finishing in 1:22.39 over a fast track. Her victory marked the first in a BC dirt race for trainer Chad Brown, whose five prior BC wins all came on grass. Brown then won his seventh BC race when Stephanie’s Kitten captured the Filly and Mare Turf.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Wavell Avenue was 11th down the backstretch of the seven-furlong Filly and Mare Sprint before commencing her rally leaving the half-mile pole. Rosario angled her out in the turn, and after straightening away, they had clear sailing. Gobbling up ground under a right-handed whip, Wavell Avenue went right past La Verdad with about 100 yards to go, getting a couple of left-handed smacks from Rosario when drawing off to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths.

“I had a perfect trip,” said Rosario. “We were always able to get a good position, even when we were back far. I was comfortable because they were going fast up front. She gave me a big kick down the lane.”

Taris, always in close pursuit of La Verdad, finished another neck back in third, while Cavorting, the lukewarm $3.40-1 favorite, was another 1 3/4 lengths back in fourth after laboring near the rear through the early stages.

Wavell Avenue has made remarkable progress since winning a $40,000 maiden-claiming race in the Belmont Park slop in her third career start on Oct. 22, 2014. A 4-year-old Harlington filly bred in Ontario by Eugene Melnyk, she had won four of nine subsequent races, none of them in stakes.

It was only in her final prep for the Filly and Mare Sprint, the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom, that Brown gave her a shot in a graded event. Sent off at 11-1, she responded with a flying finish that missed catching the odds-on La Verdad by a half-length. (In the interim, La Verdad had raced once, easily winning last Saturday’s Iroquois Stakes at Belmont against fellow New York-breds.)

La Verdad broke best in the Filly and Mare Sprint to wrest early command, with Stonetastic on her outside flank and Taris just behind. Through splits of 22.53 seconds and 45.12, that trio remained clear of the others to the furlong pole, where Stonetastic began to fade and Wavell Avenue flew past them all.

“We were really confident if she got a strong pace, she could get there,” said Brown, who saddled three BC winners last year at Santa Anita. “It’s a thrill to be here. I’m so proud of her.”

Wavell Avenue earned $550,000 to lift her career bankroll to $853,725. Besides Dubb, a perennial leading owner on the New York circuit, the other partners in Wavell Avenue are David Simon, Sol Kumin, and the Bethlehem Stable.

After the top four, the order was Judy the Beauty, Merry Meadow, Room for Me, Stonetastic, Kiss to Remember, Sweet Whiskey, Dame Dorothy, Super Majesty, Fioretti, and Artemis Agrotera.

An objection by Gary Stevens, the jockey of Taris, against La Verdad for alleged interference in the stretch was dismissed by the stewards.

The $2 exacta (7-4) paid $179.20, the $1 trifecta (7-4-3) returned $748.70, and the 10-cent superfecta (7-4-3-14) was worth $362.88.

Two 3-year-olds, Cavorting and Super Majesty, started in this race, meaning 3-year-olds are now 0-for-26 since the Filly and Mare Sprint was first run in 2008 at Monmouth Park. Cavorting, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., was the fifth 3-year-old to be favored.

“My filly didn’t break that sharp,” said Ortiz. “I tried to give her every chance.”