Questing, who as of June was eligible for
the first allowance condition, took command of the 3-year-old filly division
with a front-running tour de force Saturday in the 132nd running of
the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama
at Saratoga Race Course.
“She’s definitely the best 3-year-old filly in America
on the dirt,” said her trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin.
Seeking her second Grade 1 win of the meet, Questing wasted no time
making the lead, sizzling through opening fractions of 22.84 seconds for the
quarter-mile and 46.01 at the half as Grace Hall, the favorite, and Zo
Impressive tracked in second and third, respectively. In Lingerie launched her
run at the leader through three quarters in 1:09.74, but Questing never let
that challenger get close, shaking clear turning for home and widening her advantage
as she weaved in the stretch. In Lingerie finished nine lengths behind in
The final time of 2:01.29 for 1 ¼ miles marked the fastest Alabama since Love Sign
won in 2:01 in 1980. Questing paid $6.40 for a $2 win wager as the 2-1 second
“She was going fast, but she was so relaxed,” said winning
jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who turned 20 on August 11 and has won three Grade 1
races during the 2012 Saratoga
meet, more than any other jockey. “I kept my hands down, and she was
moving so easily. She was just galloping. Her ears were up and she was playing
with her ears. She was amazing. I never rode one like that.”
McLaughlin, who trains the homebred for Godolphin Racing, had the same
assessment as Ortiz.
“I was thinking [the pace] was too fast, but I liked the way she
was doing it,” said McLaughlin. “I looked behind her, and a lot of
them were riding hard to keep up. I was nervous about the fractions, but she
was doing it the right way.”
Questing, a daughter of Hard Spun, placed in a pair of Group 3 races on
turf in England
for trainer John Gosden as a 2-year-old before finishing fifth in the Grade 1
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her dirt and North American debut.
Transferred to McLaughlin’s barn following the Breeders’ Cup, she
was fourth and fifth in a pair of optional claimers on turf this spring before
her connections decided to switch her back to the dirt.
The move paid off as Questing rolled to a 3 ¾-length optional-claiming
score on June 24 at Belmont Park, then posted a 4 ¼-length triumph, despite
drifting out, in the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks on July 21 at Saratoga.
“She’s a special filly,” said McLaughlin. “I’m
glad we have her on dirt here in North America
and that we tried her on it. “She could have won today going a mile and a
Via Villaggio finished 17 lengths behind the winner in third and was 1
¼ lengths clear of fourth-place finisher Zo Impressive, who was vanned off
after the race with a lateral condylar fracture to her right-front cannon bone.
“It was obvious that it was displaced, but it did not fracture
the skin,” said Celeste Kunz, on-call veterinarian for the American
Association of Equine Practitioners. “A compression boot was put on,
which fits and looks like a ski boot and contains that fracture. She was put on
the horse ambulance and vanned back to her barn, where Dr. [James] Hunt was
going to take X-rays to see the extent of the injury. It is a
career-threatening injury depending on the extent of the fracture and if any
other bones were involved, but it does not appear life-threatening at this
point. She was able to walk off the ambulance.”
Grace Hall, Sea
Island, and Uptown Bertie
completed the order of finish.