December 11, 2023

Letruska runs rivals off their feet in Shuvee

Letruska wins the Shuvee Stakes at Saratoga (Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand)

St. George Stable’s homebred Letruska put on an exhibition of speed in Sunday’s $125,000 Shuvee Stakes (G3) at Saratoga, giving trainer Fausto Gutierrez a landmark graded win on the U.S. mainland.

The Mexican champion filly was rebounding from a fifth in the Aug. 8 Ballerina (G1), where she lost her composure pre-race. Chasing Serengeti Empress through punishing splits in that 7-furlong dash didn’t help either. Calmer in the preliminaries for the Shuvee, the 7-2 second choice proved that she could carry her high speed for the duration of the 1 1/8-mile test.

Under Joel Rosario, Letruska hustled to the lead through an opening quarter in :23.05. As the Kentucky-bred maintained her gallop in :46.20 and 1:09.51, she gradually extended her advantage, and appeared to have her rivals on the ropes. Letruska slowed in the lane, reaching the mile in 1:35.07 and finishing in 1:48.94, but not enough to be caught.

Runner-up Royal Flag made headway late on the inside, and briefly might have entertained a thought of threatening. Letruska kept on, however, to hold sway by a length. Our Super Freak, who had raced second much of the way, checked in third. Defending champion Golden Award was an even fourth, nearly nabbed by Lucky Stride’s rally from last. Next came the Todd Pletcher trio of Bellera, Another Broad, and 2.95-1 favorite Nonna Madeline, while Lucky Move trailed.

“She’s fast,” Rosario said. “She always fires, but at a mile and an eighth, I didn’t know. But she kept fighting. I always planned to have a little more left for the end. It looks like she runs that way – she likes to go. She did it well on her own.

“I thought I would find myself on the lead and hopefully have a little left at the end. She’s super-fast. If I asked her, she’d probably go (a half-mile) in :45. She relaxed nicely. I put my hands down and she was really calm and happy. It was a very good performance.”

Gutierrez, whose past Mexican stars Kukulkan and Jala Jala had placed at the U.S. Grade 3 level, hopes that Letruska can take him to the Breeders’ Cup. Now the Distaff (G1) is her preferred target rather than the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), with the Oct. 4 Spinster (G1) as a “Win and You’re In” stepping stone:

“After the last race in Miami (the June 27 Added Elegance at Gulfstream Park), when she went in :23 and :44 in the one-mile race, I had the idea she could come to 7 furlongs. I tried to go to the Breeders’ Cup with her. I know it’s a big jump, bigger step, and the Ballerina was the only race to give me that perception. That was a very difficult race and the filly was very nervous here in the paddock.

“She went very fast in the beginning (in the Shuvee), but at the end she had horse. At the start, she didn’t get the best jump. The first jump was a little bit slow, but after that she started to improve – :23 and :46, I think that’s perfect. She’s a filly that needs speed and distance. This is obvious in her races here and in Mexico. In Mexico, she doesn’t have the big competition, but she made very good times. I think this is the kind of race she can run. I don’t know how many fillies can go with her in :46. Today, she was perfect in the paddock.

“I think the next step would be at Keeneland in a Grade 1 for the Breeders’ Cup. Two turns is perfect for her.”

Letruska was unbeaten from six starts at Hipodromo de las Americas, including romps in a pair of Mexican Group 1s last season, the Clasico Esmeralda and Clasico Diamante. She wired her U.S. debut in the Copa Invitacional del Caribe at Gulfstream Dec. 8, beating older males albeit in a country-restricted event. The aforementioned Added Elegance established her quality in open distaff company, and the Shuvee improved her mark to 13-10-0-1, $243,539.

By Super Saver, Letruska is a half-sister to Grade 1-placed multiple stakes winner Trigger Warning. Their dam, the Successful Appeal mare Magic Appeal, is a Grade 2-placed full sister to Grade 1 hero J P’s Gusto. Dual Sovereign Award winner Miss Mischief is also close up on the page, while champion Proud Spell can be found further in the family.