Patricia L. Moseley’s homebred Proctor’s Ledge, a star at Saratoga last summer, regained the winner’s circle after a stretch duel with On Leave in Saturday’s $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2).
Trained by Brendan Walsh and ridden for the first time by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, Proctor’s Ledge attracted late money that sent her off at 6-1 from a 12-1 morning line. The daughter of Ghostzapper was well placed early, on hold but within striking range of front-running Pyscho Sister through splits of :23.85 and :48.35 on a “good” course.
The tracking On Leave played her hand on the far turn, overtaking the early leader when reaching six furlongs in 1:12.87, and tried to pull away into the stretch. But Proctor’s Ledge worked her way into the clear and set off in pursuit. Looking the stronger of the pair despite On Leave’s stubbornness, Proctor’s Ledge got the better of her rival by a half-length.
Lukewarm 7-2 favorite Dream Awhile closed for third at a trip on the short side for her, so the Chad Brown trainee is one to watch on the presumed stretch-out. Dream Dancing reported home fourth, followed by Madame Stripes; La Coronel, who was up against it trying to rally from 10th; Madam Dancealot, last early; Thundering Sky; Res Ipsa; Pyscho Sister; and Insta Erma.
Proctor’s Ledge negotiated the mile in 1:36.30 and returned $15.60 to win. The bay looked on the developmental curve last season when placing in the Regret (G3) and Appalachian (G3) and finishing fourth in the Edgewood (G3). Coming into her own at the Spa, Proctor’s Ledge turned the Lake George (G3)/Lake Placid (G2) double. She ran a below-form eighth in her finale in Keeneland’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G2), but rebounded with a near-miss (and wayward finish) in the March 10 Hillsborough (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs. Proctor’s Ledge again didn’t perform up to par at Keeneland in the Jenny Wiley (G1) last out, finishing eighth over a surface she just may not enjoy. She was a different animal at Churchill, improving her scorecard to 12-5-2-1, $579,090.
The Kentucky-bred is a three-quarter sister to stakes-placed Mission Driven, by Ghostzapper’s sire Awesome Again. They were produced by the stakes-placed Arch mare Archstone, a descendant of outstanding turf mare Drumtop.
Proctor’s Ledge will likely have the Diana (G1) at Saratoga as her major summer objective, noted Walsh, who added that the four-year-old’s best days are still ahead.