Questing handled a return to Grade 1
company with aplomb Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, registering a 4 ¼-length
victory to give trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and owner Godolphin Racing a repeat
score in the $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks. The win was the first in
a graded stakes for 19-year-old jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
Stepping up in class off an impressive win in an entry-level optional
claimer at Belmont
Park, Questing raced in
second as longshot Yara opened a 3 ½-length lead through the opening quarter
mile. Questing inched up along the backstretch to engage on the outside and
claimed the top spot with 4 ½ furlongs to travel in the 1 1/8-mile race for
Putting away Yara on the far turn, Questing kicked away under a drive
in the stretch, maintaining a clear lead while drifting out as runner-up Zo
Impressive gave vain chase in second.
“I broke good, and when the No. 3 horse [Yara] went, I saved my
horse,” said Ortiz, a native of Puerto Rico.
“She was good and relaxed. When I asked her turning for home, she went
Ortiz began his career on New Year’s Day, 2011 at Hipódromo
Camarero in Puerto Rico before shifting his
tack to The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit in June of that
year. He rode Questing for the first time in her optional claiming victory.
“Irad [Ortiz] did a great job,” said McLaughlin. “He
rode an excellent race for a 19-year-old kid. We thought we were faster than
[Yara], but he said, and we talked about it, ‘If she goes, let her
go.’ And he rode a great race. He used good judgment. He did everything
Questing, the 7-2 third choice, returned $9.80 for a $2 win wager and
completed the distance in 1:50.30.
As a 2-year-old, Questing placed in a pair of Group 3 races in England
and was fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, her first
start on the dirt. The homebred opened her 3-year-old campaign by finishing
fourth and fifth, respectively, in a pair of turf optional claimers at Gulfstream Park
before her dirt romp on June 24.
“She didn’t run so well on the turf [in North
America] twice,” said McLaughlin, who teamed with Godolphin
to win the 2011 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks with It’s Tricky.
“We switched her to the dirt, and now she’s 2-for-2 for us on the
dirt. It was a great win, a Grade 1 win, for Godolphin. It’s wonderful
for Sheikh Mohammed, and we’re so proud to have her.”
Overall, Questing is 3-1-1 in eight starts with $314,876 in earnings,
including $180,000 for her TVG Coaching Club American Oaks score.
Zo Impressive, like Questing a daughter of Hard Spun, was 2 ¼ lengths
clear of third-place finisher and 3-2 favorite In Lingerie. Disposablepleasure,
Funny Proposition, and Yara completed the order of finish.