February 5, 2023

A Raving Beauty earns first Grade 1 in Just a Game

A Raving Beauty and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. prevail in the Just a Game Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Saturday, June 9, 2018 (c) Bob Newell/Horsephotos.com

by TERESA GENARO

In both looks and behavior, A Raving Beauty lived up to her name in the $700,000 Just a Game (G1) on the Belmont Stakes undercard, winning by three-quarters of a length after some rambunctious behavior behind the gate.

As the five-year-old mare acted up behind the gate, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. jumped off. Unmollified, a spirited A Raving Beauty rebuffed the efforts of the assistant starters, finally going in the gate without a rider.

Despite her energetic resistance, the German-bred daughter of Mastercraftsman settled easy into the two-path, racing several lengths behind pace-setting Lull, who was tracked closely by La Coronel. Requiring no urging around the final turn of the one-mile race on a fast Widener turf course, A Raving Beauty slipped wider, running down the center of the track with clear running room, getting her head in front at the sixteenth pole. Proctor’s Ledge was second, with Lull a half-length back in third. La Coronel faded to finish last in the field of eight.

“She can be a little quirky, as you can see, behind the gate,” said trainer Chad Brown. “She can be a little headstrong as you can see from both of her races [in the U.S.], and Irad used those good hands of his to really settle her down. I thought he made a really important decision early when La Coronel decided to move down the backside to just stay behind her and get her to relax and maybe the drop a bit a little.”

The well-traveled mare ran her first 17 races in Europe, at racetracks in Germany, France, and Italy. Though she finished in the top three eight times, she failed to get a Group win until she arrived in the U.S. In her first stateside start, she won the Beaugay (G3) at Belmont in May, racing on Lasix for the first time.

Bred by Gestut Karlshof, A Raving Beauty failed to sell twice in 2014 as a yearling. She sold for just under $265,000 at the December 2017 Arqana sale of breeding stock, after which she came to the U.S. She is owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, and Bethlehem Stables, whose partners won the Acorn (G1) with Monomoy Girl earlier on the card.