December 1, 2023

Dona Bruja spellbinding in Modesty

Dona Bruja exuded class in the Modesty, serving notice to international challengers in the Beverly D. (Four Footed Fotos)

Argentine champion Dona Bruja made it a perfect two-for-two in the United States with a cozy victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Modesty H. (G3) at Arlington, advertising her credentials for the Beverly D. (G1) over the same course and distance August 12.

Under confident handling by Declan Cannon, the even-money favorite bided her time near the back of the pack, unfazed by the pedestrian pace unfolding up front. One Liz was getting away with splits of :24.59, :50.37, and 1:14.08, with Daring Duchess tracking. Prado’s Sweet Ride and Time and Motion were also ahead of the loping Dona Bruja, who had only 44-1 longshot Bonita Cat behind her.

As the field swung into the stretch, Cannon continued to sit chilly with a double handful of horse. Daring Duchess and Time and Motion played their hands, and Prado’s Sweet Ride got a dream trip to rally smartly up the fence, but none could live with Dona Bruja once set free on the outside. Striding out effortlessly, the Ignacio Correas IV mare stamped her class in short order by a measured length. Dona Bruja completed 1 3/16 form-turf miles in 1:55.75.

Prado’s Sweet Ride outperformed her 19-1 odds when best of the rest. She was 1 3/4 lengths clear of the one-paced Time and Motion, who was even-money but a slight second choice to Dona Bruja. Another two lengths stern came Bonita Cat, Daring Duchess and One Liz, necks apart.

Dom Felipe’s Dona Bruja advanced her sterling record to 12-10-2-0, $3401,168. At home in Argentina, the bay opened her career with a five-race winning streak, across dirt and turf, culminating in a Premio Ricardo Ezequiel M. Fernandez Guerrico (G2) romp in March 2016. She suffered her first loss, by a neck, on heavy going in the Premio Paseana (G2), and settled for second again in the Premio Omega (G3).

Since returning to action in the second half of 2016, however, Dona Bruja has been invincible. She swept her final three outings at San Isidro – the Premio Sibila (G2), Premio Los Haras (G2), and Gran Premio Copa de Plata (G1) – and seamlessly transitioned to the Correas barn. Dona Bruja made her U.S. debut off a six-month layoff in the June 10 Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs and mowed down a loose-on-the-lead Believe in Bertie, and confirmed that impression here.

Dona Bruja is a paternal granddaughter of Bernstein, famous as the sire of recently retired turf champ Tepin. She’s by the Argentine-bred Bernstein stallion Storm Embrujado and out of the Australian-bred Nureyev mare This is Crazy. With her third dam being multiple Grade 1 queen Some Romance, she hails from the further family of Grade/Group 1 winners Vilzak and Garswood as well as Mutakayyef, most recently second in the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot.

Quotes from Arlington

Winning rider Declan Cannon on Dona Bruja: “I had a lot of confidence in this filly. All I wanted to do was get her settled into a nice rhythm, and she relaxed really nice for me, more so today than she has before, she’s very professional.”

Winning trainer Ignacio Correas IV: “I don’t what’s the limit, but I have to recognize the perfect ride Declan gave this filly, it was a great ride. I don’t know if we’ll find the ceiling, hopefully we never find it.”

Jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. on runner-up Prado’s Sweet Ride: “I had the best trip in the house, I saved all the ground and got through. I can’t take nothing away from her she tried very hard and gave me everything.”

Florent Geroux, rider of third-placer Time and Motion: “Great trip, unfortunately they weren’t going very fast but my filly kept going on. The winner was behind me, and when (Dona Bruja) came by it was just too much. She felt great, when I asked her to go she went forward and passed the two horses in front of her, unfortunately the winner just went right by me.”