Eternal Hope provided supporters a few anxious moments in upper stretch of Saturday’s $350,000 Jockey Club Oaks (G3), but the even-money favorite came rolling late to prevail by a neck at Aqueduct.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, the Irish-bred daughter of Teofilo notched her first graded/group and second overall stakes victory for owner/breeder Godolphin, and Jamie Spencer was in to ride in the 1 3/8-mile turf affair for three-year-old fillies. Eternal Hope trailed in last through the opening mile and rallied widest of all through the stretch, stopping the teletimer in 2:16.47 on the firm course in her U.S. debut.
“She struggled a lot from the three-eighths to the straight,” Spencer said. “Once it straightened up, she was able to get balanced, then she surged up. It’s a difficult track and there’s not a track in Europe as tight as this. It’s really fast ground, so it’s a speed test. I think you can up her performance based on what happened today.”
Stephanie’s Charm led through fast early fractions on a double-digit advantage, but the pacesetter through in the towel leaving the far turn. Quarrel advance to the lead in upper stretch, but gave way late as Neecie Marie came charging past in deep stretch.
Off at 14.70-1 off a restricted stakes win at Parx, Neecie Marie threatened to upset before being nailed late by Eternal Hope. It was another length back to Speirling Beag, and Highland Grace, Quarrel, Stephanie’s Charm, and Last Call completed the order.
Eternal Hope opened her racing career in mid-February and made her first three starts on synthetics, breaking her maiden the second time out. After her first stakes triumph in the Oaks Trial Fillies at Lingfield in mid-May, the chestnut switched to turf with a seventh in the Epsom Oaks (G1), and Eternal Hope was exiting a third to Group 1 winner Jannah Rose in Alec Head (G2) at Deauville on Aug. 20.
“Very happy to get the win on the board,” said Chris Connett, traveling assistant for Appleby. “Jamie came back and said the ground is a bit on the quick side for her, so it was nice that she was able to put forth a performance on ground that’s probably not ideal for her. Ideally, we’d be in the box seat right off the pace and start making a run a little earlier.
“But she was a bit tardy and Jamie lost a bit of ground going wide, but he needed to get her rolling because it’s quite sharp around here. When she straightened up and leveled out, she ran to the line so that was good.”
Eternal Hope is the first stakes winner from the Dubawi mare Voice of Truth, a half-sister to Italian champion and French Group 1 winner Rio De La Plata.