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Ria Antonia elevated to win tragic Juvenile Fillies
She's a Tiger just held off Ria Antonia on the wire of Saturday's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but was disqualified for a slight bumping incident right before the wire, which resulted in the runner-up being elevated to victory by the stewards in the $1,840,000 event.
The race was marred by the tragic fall by Secret Compass entering the turn on the backstretch. Dr. Wayne McIlwraith reported that the Discreet Cat filly suffered a lateral condylar fracture with dislocated left front ankle, leaving them no alternative than to euthanize the Grade 1-winning filly.
"(It) is an injury we can't bring them back from because when they dislocate on the track, they lose their blood supply, so she has been euthanized," McIlwraith said after the race. "There is no other alternative. It is the worst type of injury we get, unfortunately."
Ria Antonia earned her first stakes credit in this spot after being well-beaten in her prior three tries. Campaigned by Loooch Racing Stable Inc. and Christopher T. Dunn, the Rockport Harbor miss paid $66.60 for her win via disqualification as the 32-1 second longest shot in the 10-strong field.
She's a Tiger drew the far outside post in the Juvenile Fillies, but that didn't stop her from gunning to the front when the gates opened. Jockey Gary Stevens kept a snug hold on the Tale of the Cat filly as she set splits of :22 2/5, :45 1/5 and 1:09 1/5.
Meanwhile, Javier Castellano aboard Ria Antonia allowed his filly to lope along in midpack well off the rail down the backstretch before sending her after the front runners. Ria Antonia drew even with the stalking Secret Compass just as she fell, and went on to circle the turn wide.
Ria Antonia and She's a Tiger hooked up in the lane, with each filly drifting back and forth a bit. However, the stewards ruled that She's a Tiger's drifting caused the bump right before the wire and that it resulted in Ria Antonia losing her momentum for a second. That and the close nose finish saw She's a Tiger being disqualified from her gutsy win in a final time of 1:43 for the 1 1/16-mile, fast-track contest and placed second.
"I had gotten by Gary (Stevens) but when he came in to me, he bumped me off stride," Castellano stated.
"Javier says she got bumped right before she was going to go by," said Ria Antonia's trainer, Jeremiah Englehart. "It's right there; you can see it on the replay. After that, you have to take the horse down. If that horse changes course and doesn't make contact, you say, OK, leave it up. But once you make contact it has to come down.
"I'm elated. I'm ecstatic," the conditioner added. "I don't even know what to say. This is unbelievable. There was no doubt in my mind after I watched the replay. I'm absolutely elated."
"I was really disappointed for the filly," Stevens remarked. "She's a great filly and probably deserved to win. It was a tough call. The stewards made their call and I wouldn't disagree with that. I wouldn't have wanted to be up there in that booth with them."
"This is heartbreaking -- heartbreaking," sighed Jeff Bonde, who trains She's a Tiger. "There is nothing else I can say. She is still a wonderful filly, but this just heartbreaking."
Rosalind was a fast-closing third on the rail, just another half-length back, while Sweet Reason rounded out the top four.
"She ran a huge race," said Rosalind's rider, Joel Rosario. "We were far back early but I didn't want to take her out of what she likes to do. We had plenty of room on the inside, but I wish the race had been a little longer -- like a mile and a sixteenth and 10 yards. She'll be better as the distances get longer."
"She stumbled at the start and that was the difference between winning and losing," asserted Rosalind's trainer, Ken McPeek. "If she doesn't get off bad, she wins."
Completing the order under the wire were Artemis Agrotera, Scandalous Act, Designer Legs, Untapable, Concave and Secret Compass.
Ria Antonia made her racing debut at Woodbine for trainer Ricky Griffith in the My Dear, finishing fifth by 7 1/2 lengths. She returned to break her maiden by six lengths next out over the Polytrack before suffering a fourth-place finish, beaten 6 3/4 lengths, in the Swynford. That would be the bay filly's final race for Griffith, as she was transferred to Englehart and sent to Belmont Park for a run in the Frizette.
Ria Antonia save ground but never factored while stretching out to a mile for the first time in that Grade 1 contest. She ended up fifth, beaten six lengths by Artemis Agrotera, but improved her career record to read 5-2-0-0, $1,156,140, with Saturday's score.
Bred in Kentucky by Lynn B. Schiff, Ria Antonia sold to Griffith, acting as agent, for $9,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale in October 2012. She is the first registered stakes winner out of the Mr. Greeley mare Beer Baroness and counts as her second dam the stakes-winning Lavish Numbers, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 heroine Behaving Badly.
For the post-race transcript please click here.