Spendarella back stateside after solid Ascot effort

June 25, 2022

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Graham Motion said Gainesway Farm’s Spendarella arrived stateside Thursday following her strong second in the Group 1 Coronation on June 17 at Royal Ascot.

The 3-year-old New York-bred daughter of Karakontie won her first three starts, including scores in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park and Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland ahead of her 4 3/4-length defeat by the undefeated Inspiral in the one-mile Coronation.

Motion, who finished second in the 2020 Coronation with Sharing, said he was proud of the runner-up effort engineered by William Buick.

“I’ve never had so many accolades for finishing second in a race,” said Motion, with a laugh. “While it was a little frustrating to come up second again in that race, it was very rewarding that she proved that she belonged. There were several Group 1 winners behind her.”

Motion said he will take his time finding a next spot for the homebred, although the nine-furlong Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on August 20 is a possibility.

“It’s a little tricky to place her going forward,” Motion said. “William felt pretty strongly she’s a miler and I think he’s probably right, although over here maybe you would get away with a mile and an eighth with our firm flat turf courses. We’ll probably look at anything up to a mile and an eighth from here on out, but I’m not in a hurry to run her back. I think she’s a Grade 1 filly and I’d like to keep her in Grade 1s. We’ll see how the summer goes.

“She ran so well and has had four races now this year,” Motion added. “There’s a couple races in the fall I’d like to have her around for. She came back pretty well and is actually in quarantine at Churchill right now.”

Highland Chief #5 cruising toward victory in the G1 Man o’ War. (Chelsea Durand)

Motion said he was pleased with the fourth-place finish from Highland Chief in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Manhattan on June 11 here, which came on the heels of an upset score in the 11-furlong Grade 1 Man o’ War on May 14.

He said the 5-year-old Gleneagles horse will target the 12-furlong Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer on August 27 at Saratoga which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Keeneland.

“He ran a good race. I was a little concerned running him back in a month, but I didn’t have a better option and I thought he was doing well,” Motion sad. “He had a license to regress after such a big race in the Man o’ War. I’ll point him to the Sword Dancer and find one race to get him there. I think that horse will appreciate a little more distance over here. I think a mile and a quarter is a little quick for him.”

True Valour #3 inside battles Casa Creed #4 outside in the G1 Jaipur (NYRA/Coglianese)

Motion said True Valour, a pacesetting third in the Grade 1 Jaipur sprinting six-furlongs over the Belmont turf on June 11, will return at Saratoga with an eye towards the Grade 3, $300,000 Troy going 5 1/2-furlongs on August 5.

The 8-year-old multiple graded-stakes winning son of Kodiac garnered a 99 Beyer for the one-length loss to defending champion Casa Creed. 

“I love that horse. For an 8-year-old to come out running like that at his age [was impressive],” Motion said, noting it reminded him of the 8-year-old Nature Strip, who captured the Group 1 Kings Stand at Ascot. “These sprinters seem to get better and better with age. He came out of it great and we’ll point for the race at Saratoga.”

Divine Huntress chasing down Matareya in the G1 Acorn. (Dom Napolitano)

Motion said Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Long Valley Stables’ Divine Huntress has enjoyed a little down time after her runner-up effort to Matareya in the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day.

The sophomore daughter of Divining Rod was purchased privately from a maiden win in December at Parx and followed with an optional-claiming score there in January before fading to ninth in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at 1 1/16-miles in February at Fair Grounds.

Divine Huntress was an even fifth in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Gazelle in April ahead of a fourth-place finish in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in May at Pimlico. 

Motion said the cut back to one-mile in the Acorn may have suited the talented bay.

“Each time we run her we’ve learned something about her,” Motion said. “I feel she had excuses in New Orleans and when we came to Aqueduct she probably benefited from the race. I thought her Black-Eyed Susan run was pretty solid. I think the mile suits her.

“She could come to Saratoga, but I ran her back quickly and I don’t want to be in a hurry to run her back,” he added. “I’ve given her a pretty easy couple of weeks here.”

NYRA Press Office
Photo Spenderella wins the 2022 Appalachian presented by Japan Racing Association with Tyler Gaffalione up for trainer H Graham Motion and owner Gainesway Stable represented by Brian Graves, 2022 Keeneland Spring Meet (Coady Photography)

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