ATHENIA STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | FILLIES AND MARES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/16-MILES (TURF)
Phillips Racing Partnership's La Cloche took down the field in the Grade 3, $150,000 Athenia at Belmont on Saturday.
The James Toner-trained five-year-old mare rode the rail under a solid hold for the opening three-quarters as The Underling posted fractions of :25, :50 1/5 and 1:15 1/5. La Cloche was eased outward along the far turn and made to go four wide into the upper stretch, but closed with a fury to capture her first graded victory by 1 1/4 lengths.
The daughter of Ghostzapper covered the 1 1/16 miles over the good inner turf in 1:45 with Junior Alvarado aboard, and returned $11, $6.10 and $4 to her backers.
"I just was waiting for my chance to move outside because she never runs one step on the inside," Alvarado said. "That was pretty much what I was trying to work out first. She was able to swing outside by the quarter pole, and after that I won't say it was really easy, but she took off. She really helped me and gave me a nice kick at the end."
Coming across the wire for second was 24-1 longshot Embarr, followed by Laughing in third and 6-5 favorite Ruthenia in fourth. Martita Sangrita, Law of the Range, Thundering Emilia and The Underling rounded out the order of finish.
The Kentucky homebred won her first stakes race earlier this year at Belmont in the Voodoo Dancer, and was entering this race off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel. Her best previous finish in a graded stakes was a second in the Grade 3 Pucker Up in 2010. La Cloche boosted her lifetime earnings to $298,833 and now has a career line which reads 18-5-3-0.
La Cloche's dam is the Silver Hawk mare Memories of Silver who scored her signature wins in the Beverly D. and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup both Grade 1s, as well as the prestigious Grade 2 Diana. An eight-time stakes winner, the Silver Hawk mare placed in such Grade 1 events as the Flower Bowl, Yellow Ribbon and Matriarch.
As a broodmare, she is also responsible for this years Grade 1 Diana winner Winter Memories as well as stakes scorers British Blue and War Trace.
Further back, this is the family of recently-deceased sire Dynaformer, Kentucky Derby hero Monarchos, multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Brian's Time and champions Ryafan and Sunshine Forever.