Saturday, July 26, 2014

La Verdad, My Wandy's Girl have rematch in G2 HRTV Honorable Miss

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Contact: Jon Forbes


La Verdad, My Wandy's Girl have rematch in G2 HRTV Honorable Miss


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Since finishing second to My Wandy's Girl in February, La Verdad has rattled off four straight stakes wins. On Sunday, La Verdad will attempt to extend her winning streak to five when she faces My Wandy's Girl again in the Grade 2, $200,000 HRTV Honorable Miss Handicap on Monday at Saratoga Race Course.


The HRTV Honorable Miss is a six-furlong race for fillies and mares.


In February, La Verdad set the pace before yielding late to My Wandy's Girl, who got up to win the Laurel Park's Grade 2, seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park. Since then, La Verdad has made two starts at Aqueduct Racetrack and two at Belmont Park, winning the Broadway by 3 ¾ lengths in March, the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap by 3 ¾ lengths in April, the Critical Eye by a half-length in May, and the Dancin Renee by 1 ¾ lengths on July 3.


The Broadway, Critical Eye, and Dancin Renee all were restricted to New York-breds. The only race during her current winning streak that wasn't contested at six furlongs was the Critical Eye, a one-mile race that was La Verdad's sternest test during that span.


Trainer Linda Rice has had the HRTV Honorable Miss in her sights for La Verdad, a front-running 4-year-old, for a while.


"It was a tough choice to use the Dancin Renee as a prep for the Honorable Miss," said Rice, who conditions La Verdad for Sheila Rosenthal. "Fortunately, it turned out well. It was stronger competition than I anticipated, but it turned out well. It really set her up, and she had had a nice work over the track."


Rice hopes the HRTV Honorable Miss' six-furlong distance and La Verdad's current form will help her runner turn the tables on My Wandy's Girl.


"My Wandy's Girl is a tough, tough filly," said Rice. "Maybe we'll have a better chance of beating her at six [furlongs] than seven, and La Verdad is training much better now than she was going into the Barbara Fritchie."  


In contrast, My Wandy's Girl's trainer, Michael Hushion, thinks one mile is the optimum distance for his charge. My Wandy's Girl, a 5-year-old import from Puerto Rico, has made only one start since the Barbara Fritchie, finishing third, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Grade 2 Ruffian Handicap at one mile on May 11 at Belmont.


In her career, including starts in Puerto Rico, My Wandy's Girl has won at distances ranging from five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.


"I think milers can be formidable if they get a hot pace in front of them, which is what I'm hoping will happen here," said Hushion.


Hushion said he already has circled the Grade 1, seven-furlong Ballerina on August 23 at Saratoga on his calendar.


"It's time for [My Wandy's Girl] to run and get in the cycle," said Hushion. "Maybe she can run seven-eighths a month from now. We know seven-eighths is in her wheelhouse."


Jose Ortiz will ride La Verdad, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, from post position 1. Meanwhile, Jose's brother, Irad Ortiz, Jr., has the call aboard My Wandy's Girl, who drew post 7 and was installed as the 7-2 second choice. Both runners will carry 119 pounds as co-highweights.


Fourth in the Barbara Fritchie was William Parsons, Jr. and David S. Howe's Merry Meadow, who raced evenly when beaten 5 ¾ lengths. Merry Meadow, who typically presses the pace, flattered the Fritchie's form when she returned to take the Grade 3, 6 ½-furlong Vagrancy Handicap by 3 ¾ lengths on May 17 and came up just a nose short when second in the Grade 3, seven-furlong Bed o' Roses Handicap on June 21. Both the Vagrancy and Bed o' Roses were run at Belmont.


"It's a tough race," said trainer Mark Hennig of the HRTV Honorable Miss. "If they all go, there's a lot of pace in the race. With that said, she gives a good account of herself every time. Until she shows us otherwise, we figured this is the next step. I didn't want to sit and wait on the Ballerina because I didn't think the seven-eighths is necessarily what she'd want."


Rajiv Maragh has the mount aboard Merry Meadow, tabbed at 5-1 on the morning line. They'll leave from post 5.


R Free Roll will be making her first start for trainer Danny Gargan and second outside Florida when she competes in the HRTV Honorable Miss. The quick 4-year-old has won two straight stakes, taking the Hollywood Beach by three lengths in April for trainer Ralph Ziadie and then adding a 3 ¾-length score in the U Can Do It Handicap on May 31 at Calder Race Course for Ralph's son, Kirk Ziadie.


"She's doing really well," Gargan said. "She was sent in here doing unbelievable, and we're just trying to keep doing exactly what Kirk was doing with her. He's helped a lot. I'm just glad to have the opportunity to run her here."


R Free Roll, 4-1, will depart from post 3 with Paco Lopez aboard.


The field also includes Speedinthruthecity, winner of the Roxelana on June 21 at Churchill Downs; Red Velvet, who won the Jersey Girl in May before finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Victory Ride; and Calistoga, third in the Bed o' Roses.


The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 HRTV Honorable Miss Handicap:








La Verdad (NY)

J L. Ortiz


L Rice



Speedinthruthecity (KY)

J R. Leparoux


S M. Asmussen



R Free Roll (FL)

P Lopez


D Gargan



Red Velvet (PA)

J R. Velazquez


T A. Pletcher



Merry Meadow (KY)

R Maragh


M A. Hennig



Calistoga (KY)

J Rosario


W I. Mott



My Wandy's Girl (KY)

I Ortiz, Jr.


M E. Hushion




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