Gary Barber, Baccari Racing Stable LLC and Chester Prince’s Salty rallied up the rail to collar pacesetter Farrell in the shadow of the wire in Friday’s $350,000 La Troienne Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs.
The 1 1/16-mile affair featured the return of last year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner, Abel Tasman, but that filly never really impacted the race. Farrell took command from the start and proceeded through fractions of :24.70, :48.86 and 1:12.82 while tracked by Salty. Martini Glass joined the fray nearing the final bend but Farrell was tenacious.
That dark bay four-year-old turned back Martini Glass’ challenge in the lane and appeared a winner but Salty wasn’t done. The Mark Casse trainee continued motoring while drifting closer to the rail, eventually drawing even and then passing Farrell to finish 1 3/4 lengths in front on the line.
Salty paid $10.40 as the 4-1 third choice in the seven-distaffer field, and ran 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.78. Farrell had 1 1/4 lengths to spare over Martini Glass in third, while Abel Tasman just missed by a neck to be fourth. Tiger Moth and Streamline completed the order of finish.
Salty and jockey Tyler Gaffalione were each earning their first Grade 1 wins in the La Troienne. The Quality Road filly scored in last year’s Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for her only other stakes victory, but has placed in the Alabama Stakes (G1), Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Acorn Stakes (G1), all as a sophomore in 2017.
Salty also ran fifth in last year’s Kentucky Oaks, and now boasts an 11-4-2-2 career line to go along with $688,500 in lifetime earnings.
Bred in Kentucky by Seclusive Farm LLC and Prince Farm LLC, Salty is out of the stakes-placed Dixie Union mare Theycallmeladyluck, who is herself a daughter of Grade 3 heroine Vegas Prospector.
LA TROIENNE QUOTES
Mark Casse, trainer Salty, winner
“She’s just an extremely talented filly, as I’ve said a few times. She’s gotten unlucky before. Today, everything worked out well for her. I think (jockey) Tyler (Gaffalione) is an up-and-coming star, as does (co-owner) Gary Barber, so we’ve kind of stuck with Tyler and it’s paid off, because he knows her so well. After his last race he was a little disappointed and he said ‘We’re going to win a Grade 1’ and I said ‘I know we will,’ and we have faith, and he rode a great race today.
“We just handicapped this race and Saturday’s Humana Distaff (G1). I thought, and Gary did as well, if there was ever a time to take on Abel Tasman it was today. And I have the utmost respect for her, and as great a trainer as Bob (Baffert) is, it’s nearly an impossible scenario, because I don’t believe they’re really that far apart. If you watch early on, a couple times Abel Tasman had a great trip and we didn’t, and it was fairly close. And this filly is better than she’s ever been. I figured if she beat us today, we were going to try her again.
“The biggest thing with our filly is last race she didn’t switch leads until about 100 yards before the wire, and it probably cost her her last race. And it wasn’t from lack of trying, but Tyler knew from the beginning, he wanted to get her to switch leads. And she did it well today and you saw her, she finished extremely strong.”
Tyler Gaffalione, jockey Salty, winner
“She really responded. As soon as the spot opened up on the turn, I just put her there and she really exploded. I had to keep after her, but she was running. It is my first (Grade 1 win). I’m speechless. It’s very exciting, especially on this stage.”
Channing Hill, jockey Farrell, second
“I’m so proud of my filly. At the top of the lane I thought I was a winner for sure. That other filly (Salty) had to run a long way to reel us in. My filly ran great.”
Paco Lopez, jockey Martini Glass, third
“She ran good. She ran her race. Today just wasn’t her day.”
Mike Smith, jockey Abel Tasman, fourth
“It was her first race back. She made a nice move around the turn and just got tired through the lane. It was just the way the race set up. I really wish the other pace wouldn’t have scratched out of there. That really turned the race into a sprint for home. We weren’t expecting that, of course, and once the scratches came out, being that it was her first race back, I didn’t want to get really aggressive with her early and have her get tired late. I was just gambling, hoping I was a whole lot the best, but those are just nice mares and I underestimated them a little bit. In saying that, though, I’m sure she got a lot out of the race and she’ll come back very well. That race didn’t set up at all for her.”