Gina Romantica Upsets Stablemate/Defender for G1 First Lady Victory

October 7, 2023

Gina Romantica bests In Italian in the First Lady (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

Keeneland Press Release

LEXINGTON, Ky.— It was a Peter Brant-Chad Brown exacta in the 26th running of the First Lady (G1) Presented by UK HealthCare as Gina Romantica collared defending champion and stablemate In Italian (GB) in deep stretch to win by a head. 

Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Gina Romantica completed the mile over a firm turf course in 1:33.70. 

This is the sixth consecutive year Brown has saddled the First Lady winner. He has won the race seven times overall. This is the third consecutive First Lady victory for Brant, who now has won eight graded stakes here to earn a Keeneland Tray as part of the track’s signature Milestone Trophy Program.

In Italian, with Joel Rosario aboard, dictated the pace in the field of eight with unopposed fractions of :23.40, :46.80 and 1:10.12. In Italian brought a clear advantage into the stretch with Gina Romantica emerging as the only threat. Gina Romantica swept by passing the sixteenth pole to secure a second Grade 1 victory here to go with her win in last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Dixiana. 

A Keeneland sales graduate, Gina Romantica is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Into Mischief out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Special Me. The victory was worth $447,563 and increased her earnings to $1,108,603 with a record of 10-5-2-0. 

Dismissed at 11-1 odds, Gina Romantica returned $25.02, $6.26 and $4.30. In Italian, the 2-5 favorite, paid $2.42 and $2.10 and finished 3½ lengths in front of Evvie Jets, who returned $5.58 to show under Jose Ortiz. 

It was another half-length back to Whitebeam (GB) in fourth with Gam’s Mission, Jumbly (GB), New Year’s Eve and Thisnameisokay following in order. 

Quotes from the $750,000 First Lady (G1) Presented by UK HealthCare

Tyler Gaffalione (winning rider of Gina Romantica)

A giddy Gaffalione after the race (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

“First off, all the credit goes to (trainer) Chad (Brown) and his team. She fired big for us today. Thank you, (owner) Mr. (Peter) Brant for giving me this opportunity. She broke good. She traveled so great throughout. I didn’t have to take too much of a hold. She was very comfortable where she was. Coming into the stretch, once I found room toward the outside, she really exploded – finished her job really well.”

Joel Rosario (rider of runner-up In Italian-GB)

“She relaxed nice today. The other horse (Gina Romantica) really ran a big race. The fractions were good. She was really relaxed up front, beautiful.” 

Jose Ortiz (rider of third-place finisher Evvie Jets)

“Beautiful, broke good. We went forward into the first turn, saved as much ground as we could in the backside and dropped behind Johnny (Velazquez on Jumbly-GB). I was third best. Both fillies in front of me were much better than me today. We ran a great race.”

Fall Stars Weekend continues Sunday with a 10-race program that begins at 1 p.m. ET. Three stakes are on the program highlighted by the $600,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) for fillies and mares that features the Keeneland return of champion Nest. 

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