NATALMA STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 2-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 2 | ONE-MILE (TURF)
Avoiding trouble near the eighth pole when favored Ready to Act bore in sharply while leading and hit the rail, Harlequin Ranches' Llanarmon surged between rivals to post a victory in the $217,907 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine.
Klaravich Stables' and William Lawrence's Ready to Act moved to the front turning for home on the turf course when the favored More Than Ready filly surged past early leader Unspurned. Ready to Act and jockey Rajiv Maragh opened a two-length lead midstretch when she ducked in dramatically and hit the rail near the eighth pole, unseating Maragh.
Maragh fell into the path of Unspurned, who appeared to jump the fallen rider. Maragh was down on the turf for several minutes after the conclusion of the race. Soon after the accident, the track said Maragh was conscious when he was transported by ambulance to an area hospital. Ready to Act walked off the course.
Llanarmon, who had been tracking in fourth in the stretch looking to make her move, squeezed past the incident to seize the lead in deep stretch and post a three-quarter-length victory in the one-mile turf race for juvenile fillies.
"When I asked her, she responded, despite everything that happened," said winning rider Emma-Jayne Wilson, who also expressed concern for Maragh. "She kind of stalled [when it happened] but then she regained her focus."
Llanarmon entered off a third-place finish in her debut, a seven-furlong turf race Aug. 23 at Woodbine. Trainer Roger Attfield said the Sky Mesa filly did not break well in that race but, "rallied like a freight train." She completed the Natalma in 1:35.89 over firm turf to secure both her first stakes win and first victory overall.
Llanarmon returned $20.40 to win, $7.70 to place, and $4.60 to show. Robert S. Evans' Spanish Flower, who raced close to the lead throughout, held second to return $12.40 and $7.90, while John Oxley's Appreciating finished third, a neck behind the runner-up while paying $3.
With the victory, Llanarmon picked up entry fees and travel expenses to this year's Breeders' Cup as the Natalma is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race to the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Llanarmon, who earned $139,090 for the win, was bred in Ontario by Cavendish Investing. She is out of the Canadian Grade 3-winning Smart Strike mare Gold Strike, who earned championship honors in Canada as a 3-year-old.
Madly Truly finished fourth, followed by Skylander, Unspurned, and Spring Likeacobra.