Gala Brand gritty in capturing the With Anticipation against the boys (Chelsea Durand)
By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Arnmore Thoroughbreds and Even Keel Thoroughbreds’ Gala Brand scratched out of an engagement against her female counterparts in Wednesday’s off-the-turf P.G. Johnson, but the daughter of Violence showed grit and determination to defeat males in Thursday’s 19th renewal of the Grade 3, $175,000 With Anticipation, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for juveniles, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who sent out Magic Cross to win yesterday’s P.G. Johnson, Gala Brand swept from last-to-first under Jose Ortiz to outduel Carson’s Run in a thrilling stretch drive, awarding her with both her first triumph against winners and first career stakes score on the heels of a debut win on August 3 here.
Mott credited Megan Jones, managing partner of co-owner Arnmore Thoroughbreds, with the decision to take on males in the With Anticipation.
“I owe a lot to her,” said Mott. “She made sure she was nominated to both races and the plan was to enter in both. She was ready to scratch yesterday even before they came off the grass because she wanted the better turf course. As it turned out, there was no decision to make. Everything fell into place and then another filly won yesterday.”
Gala Brand broke cleanly from the inside post in the field of seven and settled in last along the hedge as Market Street bounded to the front with Nomos and Spirit Prince in a battle for second through an opening quarter-mile in 25.02 seconds over the good footing.
Market Street led into the backstretch as Ortiz opted to bring Gala Brand two paths off the rail to the outside of Wine Collector and just behind Carson’s Run with a half-mile in 51.61. The Mott-trained Get Spooled, who went widest of all in the first turn after a slow start and raced near the back of the field early on, was asked to make an early move by Jose Lezcano and took up second position near the half-mile call.
Nomos was swung wide mid-turn through three-quarters in 1:16.42 to make his bid for the lead while the Dylan Davis-piloted Carson’s Run and a loaded Gala Brand were given their cues in tandem as they each opted to make a run to the outside of a tiring Nomos. Get Spooled got the jump on his rivals and came away with the lead at the stretch call, but Carson’s Run and Gala Brand made up ground with every stride down the center of the course in an exciting battle to the wire.
Spirit Prince made one last bid for the lead in between Get Spooled and Carson’s Run, but neither he nor the latter could hold off the impressive turn of foot from Gala Brand, who swept by in the final strides to post the half-length triumph in a final time of 1:45.93.
A game Carson’s Run secured place honors 1 1/4 lengths ahead of his Christophe Clement-trained stablemate Spirit Prince, with Nomos and Get Spooled finishing fourth in a dead heat. Wine Collector and Market Street completed the order of finish. British Sea was scratched.
Ortiz, who won his third stake of the meet, said following the talented Carson’s Run throughout was key to the victory.
“The main thing first time going long was to keep her in good rhythm and just let her be and that’s what I did,” Ortiz said. “I followed Dylan, I liked his horse. I saw him work the other day on the Oklahoma and he worked very well. I followed him every step of the way until we hit the quarter-pole. I went outside of him and it worked out. She was full of run, very nice filly.”
Gala Brand boasts an eye-catching color pattern, with white splotches on her underside and tall white markings on her legs. Jones said the flashy filly’s colors may not have been popular with prospective buyers at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where she was purchased for $30,000.
“The color helped us buy her because I couldn’t find any holes in her at the sale,” said Jones. “She was a little rangy, I think it was the European in her. She looked pretty awkward [when she was] younger, the white covered more than it does now. She almost kind of grew into her color as she went. I think it helped us in the long term.
“Her personality actually fits her color,” Jones added. “She has a lot of charisma and confidence. As soon as I saw her under tack and got to know her, I was like, ‘That’s just right for her.’ She was born to be that color.”
The With Anticipation marks the first graded win for Arnmore Thoroughbreds, a milestone Jones said she will savor before making any further plans for Gala Brand.
“We’ll just enjoy this for now and then get together and see where we go, but I think she overcame a little bit today,” said Jones. “They went slow up front and she ran them down and was challenged for the first time really and galloped out nicely. I was proud of her.”
Mott noted Get Spooled, a New York-bred son of Hard Spun, was compromised by a troubled trip.
“My other horse broke bad and he should have been up close,” said Mott. “He wound up getting into second position going into the turn and took the lead turning for home. I thought, maybe we’re going to be one-two, but he folded a bit inside the sixteenth pole.”
Bred in Kentucky by Desmond Ryan and Martin Schwartz, Gala Brand is out of the multiple graded/group stakes-winning Lord of England mare Olorda. She banked $96,250 in victory and returned $7.80 on a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Friday at the Spa with a 10-race card, featuring the Grade 3 Saranac in Race 4. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.