Defeated by the length of Abel Tasman’s head and some tight race-riding in last month’s CCA Oaks, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Elate proved herself in Saturday’s Grade 1 Alabama with a runaway victory over her peers. The 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was well-placed in mid-pack behind a sharp early pace, then rallied fiercely around the far turn to dominate the well-matched field of sophomore fillies by at least five lengths. Ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Bill Mott, Elate covered 1 1/4 miles over Saratoga’s fast main track in 2:02.19.
“I just went along with her and as we entered the stretch, she really got going and I didn’t look back, I kept riding,” Ortiz said. “It’s a Grade 1 and I didn’t want to look back for anybody, I just focused on riding her to the finish. I’m glad that she won, because ever since the first day I got on her in the morning, we thought she was going to be a really nice filly. She won by 12 lengths first time out and then she went a little bit off form. Just being kind of green, breaking a little slow. I’m glad she put herself together and look what she can do when she matures.”
Though longshot Mopotism was a bit unsettled before the break, the field of nine left the starting gate on very even terms to negotiate the Saratoga stretch in their first pass under the wire. California invader It Tiz Well made herself prominent early, along with Unchained Melody. Elate was near the outside of the second grouping, behind the two frontrunners, and hung a bit wide around the clubhouse turn, though Mopotism took the brunt of the five-wide trip.
As the field settled into their positions, It Tiz Well was setting a very solid pace on the front end. Leading by 1 1/2 lengths, the filly reeled off fractions of :23.46, :46.96 and 1:10.92. Unchained Melody was just off the rail in second, with New Money Honey and Holy Helena on the inside. Elate stayed out of traffic in fifth position, several paths off the rail.
Approaching the far turn, Unchained Melody began to drop back through the field, taking herself out of the race and leaving New Money Honey in second position. Elate had just begun to unwind her rally on the outside, and was moving toward the frontrunning It Tiz Well with giant strides. Salty had saved ground early and was looking for racing room, and Lockdown made a big move on the far outside to range into contention.
At the head of the lane, Elate had drawn even with It Tiz Well, but the contest was over in an instant as Elate easily took over the lead. Under steady urging, Elate continued to pull away from her rivals down the lane, winning by 5 1/2 lengths as It Tiz Well was able to hold off Salty for the place. Actress checked in fourth.
“It looked like we were going to be a little bit wide going through the first turn, and naturally, I need to go review the films to see a bit more, but it looked like when he left the half-mile pole, he [Jose Ortiz] moved her into contention and it looked like she had dead aim on them by the time she reached the quarter-pole,” Mott said. “It was more of a forward type of race for her. It looks like the mile and a quarter is her type of trip. She finished well and she’s got a nice burst of speed and she stays on well.”
Unchained Melody did not cross the finish line, but jogged under her own power into the horse ambulance to be vanned back to the stable area. Jockey Joel Rosario stated that easing the filly had been eased as a precaution.
“I had to keep asking her to just hold my position and she was there and at one point, she wasn’t,” Rosario said. “Everybody was getting away from me. She was steady, just didn’t want to do it. After that, I just had to pull her up and make sure she was OK. She was feeling fine physically. I don’t know, she just got tired. I don’t know what happened.”
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, Elate is out of the stakes-winning Cheery, by Distorted Humor. Excepting the G1 Ashland at Keeneland in April, in which she was pulled up, Elate has not finished worse than third in her eight career starts. The Alabama is her first Grade 1 win, and improves her record to 3-3-1 with earnings of $ 530,000.
“There was no pressure,” Mott continued. “I just wanted the win for the filly and for the connections. Ms. [Adele] Dilschneider is such a great person. She’s just a wonderful lady, one of the great women of the turf. You couldn’t have a better owner. She loves her horses and she was looking forward to this as much as I was.”
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