VIRGINIA OAKS | PURSE: $150,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/8 MILES
Under an enterprising ride by Robby Albarado, Landaluce Educe Stables' Volcat struck the front on the far turn of Saturday evening's Grade 3, $150,000 Virginia Oaks and kept on determinedly for the duration to earn her first stakes victory. The Ken McPeek trainee held the persistent Filare l'Oro safe by a half-length, completing 1 1/8 miles on the yielding turf course in 1:52.
An entry-level allowance winner over the Churchill Downs turf last time out, Volcat paid $5.80, $4 and $3.20 as the 9-5 second choice. Even-money favorite Zultanite could do no better than fifth when trying to come from off the pace.
Volcat, on the other hand, stalked early leader Boastful Dancer through fractions of :24 2/5 and :49 1/5. Creeping closer as they approached the far turn, Volcat pounced and took over from the weakening Boastful Dancer through six soggy furlongs in 1:14 1/5. She built up a three-length margin in the stretch, and that clear break on the field turned out to be the winning move.
Filare l'Oro was gradually getting to her, but not enough to erase the gap. Despite looking weary late, Volcat plugged on to prevail. Ski Holiday reported home another 5 1/4 lengths astern in third, followed by Julia's Star, Zultanite, My Precious Secret and the eased Boastful Dancer.
Volcat, the first graded winner for her sire After Market, sports a 9-3-2-2 mark with $183,470 in earnings. Precocious enough to begin her career during the spring meet at Churchill as a juvenile, she didn't break her maiden until her sophomore debut on February 29 at Gulfstream Park. She tried the Grade 3 Eight Belles on Kentucky Oaks Day, but was eased after stumbling at the start. McPeek then switched her to turf, and she finished an encouraging third in a first-level allowance beneath the Twin Spires, prior to clearing that condition on June 22.
Bred by Edmond A. Hudon and Sharon Hudon in Kentucky, Volcat RNA'd for $149,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling. The dark bay is a half-sister to multiple stakes heroine Love to Tell and the stakes-placed Economic Swoon. They were all produced by the unraced Southern Halo mare Kentucky Whisper, who is herself a half-sister to Grade 1-placed stakes scorer Setareh.
Volcat's third dam is multiple Canadian champion Eternal Search, who is the dam of Canadian Broodmare of the Year Destroy. Multiple Grade 2 hero Smokey Fire and multiple stakes winners Utterly Cool and Ghost Fleet are among Destroy's progeny. Other descendants of Eternal Search include Frumious, winner of the Grade 2 Palos Verdes earlier this year, and Grade 3 victor Jiggs Coz.