Betsy Blue Last-to-First in $120K Garland of Roses

December 10, 2022

Betsy Blue gets the win in the $120K Garland of Roses (Susie Raisher)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Cloud Nine Stable’s Betsy Blue needed just one week’s rest to score the second stakes victory of her career in Saturday’s $120,000 Garland of Roses, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Linda Rice and piloted to victory by Jose Lezcano, Betsy Blue cut back to six furlongs from the one-mile Grade 3 Go for Wand last Saturday at the Big A where she finished a closing third after going four-wide under her returning rider. The New York-bred daughter of Tonalist scored her first stakes victory since last year’s Bouwerie at Belmont Park.

“We accomplished what we wanted with the Grade 3 [placing] and, frankly, I knew it was back on short rest, but she’s won all of her conditions and there’s limited opportunities for her,” said Rice. “It’s on her home court and she came out of the race great, so I said let’s go right back.”

Betsy Blue broke evenly from the inside post and settled in last-of-5 along the rail as post-time favorite Smash Ticket blitzed to the front to lead the field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.51 seconds over the fast main track. Disco Ebo tracked closely in second with Beguine to her outside in third as the trio pulled away from Snicket and a trailing Betsy Blue.

Disco Ebo came under a ride from Eric Cancel to put her head in front as the field rounded the turn with the Dylan Davis-piloted Beguine full of run on the far outside after a half-mile in 45.78. Those two briefly matched strides nearing the top of the lane before Beguine took a 2 1/2-length advantage and was roused for more by Davis.

Betsy Blue, who rallied from five lengths off the pace, went widest of all and threatened with large strides down the center of the racetrack under strong urging from Lezcano. Betsy Blue, wrapped up in the final 70 yards, coasted home 1 1/4 lengths in front in a final time of 1:10.92. Beguine held place honors by 4 1/4 lengths over Disco Ebo with Snicket and Smash Ticket completing the order of finish.

Hot Peppers, who breezed a half-mile in 48.75 over the Belmont main track this morning and will target the Grade 1 La Brea on December 26 at Del Mar; and Dontletsweetfoolya, who did not ship to New York and will look to the Willa On the Move the same day at Laurel Park, were scratched.

Rice said she was pleased to see Betsy Blue not fall too far behind in the early stages of the race.

“I saw Lezcano was urging her to keep her close enough to win and that was the idea,” said Rice. “She’s coming off of a mile, so he had to encourage her a little bit but she’s such a professional and she loves what she’s doing.”

Lezcano echoed Rice’s sentiments and noted the bay filly’s adaptability at different distances.

“She’s a very good mare. She always tries hard and gives me her best,” said Lezcano. “I think they went pretty quick in front early on and when they turned for home she found another gear, went on and won the race. Any race from a mile to three quarters, she always tries hard.”

Betsy Blue has been a model of consistency for Rice since being haltered for $50,000 out of a winning optional claiming score last March at the Big A, hitting the board in 15-of-17 outings for her connections and visiting the winner’s circle seven times.

Betsy Blue after her Garland of Roses score (Joe Labozzetta)

Rice said Betsy Blue may return to the Big A for the $100,000 Interborough on January 21 with her eye on another graded attempt in the Grade 3, $250,000 Barbara Fritchie on February 18 at Laurel Park.

Bred in the Empire State by Blue Devil Racing Stable, Betsy Blue banked $66,000 in victory and improved her lifetime record to 20-9-7-2 with total purse earnings of $604,510. She returned $6.60 for a $2 win wager.

Beguine, who entered from a close runner-up effort in a first-level allowance on November 21 at the Big A, sported blinkers for the first time Saturday.

“She was very aggressive for me and was on the bridle the whole way through the stretch,” Davis said. “I was just trying to get her going and once she switched over to the right lead, she finished great. There was just the one horse that ran us down, but she ran a great race.”

Live racing resumes Sunday at the Big A with a nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of the Aqueduct fall meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit

NYRA Bets is the best way to bet every race of the Aqueduct Racetrack fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at

@PastTheWire wow. I am thankful you took the time to provide such detail about an all time great horse and the tragedy of that final race.

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