Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
On a day filled with big races and big performances, one young filly stood above all the rest, earning her the distinction of being named ZATT’s Star of the Week. In a division desperately looking for someone to step up and take control, Questing did that yesterday and then some. With a jaw-dropping display of talent, she has rocketed to the top of the three-year-old filly division about as fast as she zoomed to the lead in yesterday’s Grade 1 Alabama Stakes. Along with the Kentucky Oaks, the historic race at Saratoga is one of the two most important races for the three-year-old fillies. As such, it is not supposed to be as easy as Questing made it look yesterday. A solid second choice behind Grace Hall, the daughter of Hard Spun took only a few strides, after a little bumping out of the gate, to seize the lead under rider, Irad Ortiz, Jr. Setting down sprint-like fractions of 22.84 seconds for the quarter-mile and 46.01 for the half, Questing never looked in danger of tiring as Grace Hall and Zo Impressive tracked in second and third. Third choice, In Lingerie made a move from the outside on the far turn as the leader hit six furlongs in 1:09.74, but Questing would quickly repel any challenges of superiority on this day. Despite weaving quite a bit down the lane for the second consecutive race, she continued to pull away and hit the wire a full nine lengths clear of In Lingerie, who easily proved second best.
Further proof of the quality of the performance can be found in the final time of 2:01.29 for the ten furlongs. The time is the fastest Alabama for more than 20 years, since Go For Wand in 1990, and faster than any running of the Travers since 1992. In a post-race statement that was both bold and at the same time probably just stating the obvious, winning trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin said after the race, “She’s definitely the best 3-year-old filly in America on the dirt.” Taking a look at her record on dirt it would be hard to argue with her proud trainer. After running five of her first six races on the grass, with her only previous dirt race resulting in a traffic marred fifth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, the Godolphin owned miss was brought back to the dirt just two months ago. The switch of surfaces paid off immediately as she easily accounted for a fast optional-claiming affair on June 24 at Belmont Park, and then rolled to an impressive 4 ¼ length victory in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks four weeks ago at Saratoga.
Yesterday’s big win not only made Questing the first two-time grade 1 winner at Saratoga of 2012, but it also managed to overshadow other strong performances of the day by the likes of Little Mike, Point of Entry, and Lady of Shamrock, and made my decision for Star of the Week an easy one. I honestly can’t wait to see what she does next.