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My Miss Aurelia prevails in epic Adirondack battle
In a hard-fought stretch duel, George Bolton and Stonestreet Stables' MY MISS AURELIA (Smart Strike) was able to hold off Matron S. (G2) winner Millionreasonswhy (Grand Slam) by a mere neck in the $150,000 Adirondack S. (G2) at Saratoga Sunday. Guided by Julien Leparoux, the Steve Asmussen trainee stopped the clock in 1:17 in the 6 1/2-furlong battle on the fast track, making her a perfect two-for-two following her successful debut at the Spa.
"She ran a really tough race. Very proud of her," Asmussen said. "She definitely earned it. I think she showed a lot, coming off one 5 1/2-furlong maiden race to fight like that to the wire, especially with the way the race set up. She was challenged the whole way, and it's very nice to have a filly as good as she is.
"I would have loved for it to have been easy for her so she can come back," the trainer continued. "We have big plans for her, and we want enough horse left to do it. She's a very special filly, with her being a Stonestreet homebred and George Bolton being in on her.
"Barbara Banke (of Stonestreet Stables), she's just a tremendous individual and it speaks volumes of the horses they are breeding and raising to win a race of this caliber, especially in that style. She earned it; it definitely wasn't given to her today."
Bellacourt (Lion Heart) jumped out to the early lead, hitting the first quarter in :22 1/5 under stern pressure from My Miss Aurelia. As My Miss Aurelia took over through a half in :45 2/5, Millionreasonswhy advanced to challenge. Leaving the backstretch, the top two pulled away from the rest of the field and turned it into a match race.
My Miss Aurelia kept digging in as they passed the six-furlong mark in 1:10, and just turned back her persistent rival. The odds-on favorite returned $3, $2.10 and $2.10.
Another 15 lengths back in third came Bellacourt. New Wave (Tale of the Cat) and Anna Sophia (Oasis Dream [GB]) rounded out the order of finish, and Funny Proposition (Medaglia d'Oro) was scratched.
"She broke well. I tried to get her to relax," Leparoux said. "When Johnny Velazquez (on Millionreasonswhy) came up next to me, I knew he and his horse were the ones to beat. It was a nice fight and I'm glad she won it. This shows she has some fight to her. She doesn't want anyone to go by her or get past her.
"When I saw Stopshoppingmaria (More Than Ready) win her race pretty easily today, I really felt good about our chances. I think My Miss Aurelia is a good filly. She showed she could go that extra eighth of a mile and dig in against other horses today."
As Leparoux implied, My Miss Aurelia had defeated Stopshoppingmaria in their mutual debut. In that July 22 maiden, My Miss Aurelia swept to a one length-victory, with Stopshoppingmaria back in third. Stopshoppingmaria came back to demolish Sunday's 7TH race by 9 3/4 lengths. With the Adirondack to her credit, she has earnings now of $120,000.
Bred by co-owner Stonestreet in Kentucky, My Miss Aurelia is out of the Grade 3-placed stakes winner My Miss Storm Cat (Sea of Secrets), and brought $550,000 from Bolton at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2010. She is a half-sister to current sophomore Albergatti (Unbridled's Song), last seen finishing second in the Northern Spur S. Her other two registered half-siblings include an unnamed yearling colt by Mr. Greeley and a 2011 colt by Distorted Humor. The second dam, the unraced Urmia (Meadowlake), also produced 2010 West Virginia Derby (G2) winner Soul Warrior (Lion Heart).
The third dam Chaldea (Cutlass) was a multiple Grade 3 winner of more than $450,000. Further back, the family features multiple Grade 1 winner Cheval Volant (Kris S.) and One Thousand Guineas S. (Eng-G1) heroine Lahan (GB) (Unfuwain).
Asmussen is aiming for the $250,000 Spinaway S. (G1) on September 4 at Saratoga.
"We'll speak to Barbara and everything, but we'd love to run her in the Spinaway, knowing what a great chance that would be for us," he said.