After a frustrating fourth in her De La Rose S. comeback, Juddmonte homebred Viadera capitalized on a much more straightforward trip to prevail in Saturday’s $400,000 Ballston Spa (G2) at Saratoga. The 4-5 favorite pounced in the stretch and just held the rail-rallying High Opinion by a nose.
One of a trio of Chad Brown entrants, Viadera was reserved just off the pace established by stablemate Tamahere early. Tamahere’s change of tactics was unexpected, and she had to use some energy to take command from Platinum Paynter through an opening quarter in :22.60. But Tamahere was able to ease the tempo down the backstretch, carving out splits of :47.55 and 1:12.12.
Viadera, who crept into a closer third on the inside, overtook Platinum Paynter to gain second entering the far turn. Unlike the De La Rose, where she was stuck behind horses farther back, Viadera had no trouble angling out into the clear and taking dead aim for jockey Joel Rosario.
Tamahere was still in front in midstretch, but she could not maintain her position as the closers bore down. Viadera reeled her in, only to find her job not yet done. The Tony Dutrow-trained High Opinion gained late on the fence to force a photo.
Viadera has a penchant for narrow wins, and the Ballston Spa continued her pattern. Keeping her nose in front, Viadera finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.82 on the firm inner course.
The 8.10-1 High Opinion thwarted a Brown trifecta. A half-length back in third came Kalifornia Queen, who loomed wider out and eventually headed stablemate Tamahere. Next came New York Girl and the tailed-off Platinum Paynter.
“It was a better trip today with horses being in front,” Rosario told NYRA publicity, “and I was able to track there for a little bit. Turning for home, I was clear. She always tries really hard. She’s a very good filly.
“At the last minute, I knew the horse was coming inside (High Opinion), but she was so game and fighting going forward, so I was never worried about it, but that horse came very close.”
Brown also commented on the improved trip, and on Viadera’s nose for the wire:
“Joel got in really good position this time and made sure there weren’t too many horses in front of him in his way when he wanted to make his run. She got a nice, pocketed ground-saving trip, and once again she showed that she knows where the wire is. She’s won a couple of close photo finishes now in her career…
“She has an affinity for the wire, this horse. If you train horses long enough you’ll realize that certain horses know where it is on the winning end and some seem to come up on the losing end. She’s one of the ones who knows where it is.”
Juddmonte’s Garrett O’Rourke likewise praised Viadera’s attitude.
“She keeps winning photo finishes, and everyone wants a horse with ability, but that competitive edge is fantastic as well.”
Viadera’s resume of 15-7-1-1, $618,700, reflects five stakes victories, none by more than a neck. Just up in the 2019 Cairn Rouge S. at Killarney for original trainer Ger Lyons, the British-bred previously placed in the Eternal S. and the 2018 Anglesey (G3) versus males at two. Viadera scored a stateside hat trick in last year’s De La Rose, Noble Damsel (G3), and Matriarch (G1). She could have retired on a high, but the Juddmonte brain trust sportingly kept her in training for a five-year-old campaign.
The Oct. 9 First Lady (G1) at Keeneland is likely next, with the Nov. 28 Matriarch her projected swan song at Del Mar.
“It sure looks that way,” Brown said of the First Lady as a target. “I’m not sure if she’s a Breeders Cup horse, but we sure would like to go back and defend her title in the Matriarch at the end of the year, which will most likely, all things being equal, be the last start of her career. First thing’s first we’ll see how she comes out of the race and see if she can make that race at Keeneland.”
Viadera’s juvenile full sister, Sacred Bridge, just extended her record to a perfect 4-for-4 by drubbing the boys in Friday’s Round Tower (G3) at the Curragh. Herself trained by Lyons, Sacred Bridge has also captured the Tipperary S. and the lucrative Ballyhane race at Naas. A Group 1 is now on her agenda, namely the Sept. 25 Cheveley Park (G1) at Newmarket.
Both by Bated Breath, Viadera and Sacred Bridge are three-quarter sisters to multiple stakes scorer and Group 2-placed Cross Baton (by Bated Breath’s sire, Dansili). Their dam, the Beat Hollow mare Sacred Shield, hails from the immediate family of European champion Twice Over and Group 1 stars Passage of Time and Timepiece.