Lady Lara Strikes Early in Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap
Nov 24, 2015
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Swettenham Stud’s Lady Lara’s got into the race early Saturday at Gulfstream Park West and surged in the stretch to capture the $100,000 My Charmer Handicap (G2).
The Bill Mott-trained filly, whose deep-closing running style has frequently made her susceptible to pace and traffic, was much sharper during the early going of the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes, closely stalking the early pace while saving ground along the front stretch and first turn.
Able to attain striking position without any urging from jockey Jose Lezcano, Lady Lara moved to the lead at the top of the stretch and drew off to a comfortable 1 ¼-length victory.
“I had a very good trip. I broke good and she took me to a good spot right away. I was closer than I was supposed to be on paper but she did it so easily,” Lezcano said. “When I asked her, she took off and won the race.”
Lady Lara’s most recent victory came at Gulfstream Park in her 2015 debut on March 28, when she closed from seventh to defeat Sandiva by a neck in the Honey Fox (G2). Although she was winless in her five subsequent starts, the 4-year-old daughter of Excellent Art has closed to be stakes-placed in the Athenia (G3) and Noble Dancer (G3) at Belmont in her last two races after keeping Grade 1 company in her two prior starts.
“After we got around the first turn, it was great. She got around the first turn in good order, and she got a good post. She’s been unlucky if you look back, where she’s drawn the 13 and 14 hole several times,” Mott said. “Today, she was able to get an inside post so she could at least try to save a little ground around the first turn.”
Longshot Pink Poppy showed the way around the first turn and along the backstretch, pressed by Prayed For to her outside and stalked by 8-5 favorite Lady Lara on the inside and 9-5 second choice Sandiva on the outside. When the early leaders began to tire from their efforts midway on the last turn, Lezcano asked Lady Lara for her run, while Javier Castellano urged on Sandiva. Lady Lara took over the lead at the top of the stretch and was never threatened thereafter. Todd Pletcher-trained Sandiva put in a steady run through the stretch but was unable to hold off late-running Hope Cross for second money.
“I had a good trip, unfortunately I think the filly struggled a little bit with the tight corners, especially at the three-eighths pole with the tight turn right there,” Castellano said. “Turning for home, she just came up a little flat. She hadn’t run in a while and that concerned me a little bit. She’d been training so good, but you never know. In the post parade she was a little nervous, when they saddled the horse she was a little nervous."
Lady Lara ran 1 1/16 miles on a firm turf course in 1:43.32 to win her third stakes in nine starts in the U.S. since being imported from England. She carried 120 pounds, one less than co-highweights, Sandiva and Kitten’s Dumplings, who finished ninth after racing wide early.
“She’ll go back to Payson (Park) and we’ll see how she’s training and go from there,” Mott said. “There are two or three stakes at Gulfstream that she’ll be nominated to and we’ll just see how she’s doing.”