HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – She tried and failed at Monmouth Park. She tried and failed at Woodbine. She tried again at Keeneland and Aqueduct to no avail.
Touriga might have finally found her track Saturday at Gulfstream Park where the 4-year-old Brazilian-bred filly won her first U.S. race, the $75,000 Via Borghese Stakes.
“Today she was a different horse,” said trainer Graham Motion.
Touriga and jockey John Velazquez used a stretch rally to defeat favorite Pivotal Connection in the 1 3/16-mile turf event for her first U.S. victory on what was her fifth attempt.
Not surprisingly, Motion said he intends to keep Touriga, who is owned by Kiyoshi Maekawa, in South Florida for the immediate future.
“I think we’ll keep her in these longer races down here at Gulfstream,” Motion said. “She obviously handled the turf course, so that’s important.”
Touriga was largely forgotten by Saturday’s wagering crowd, which let her leave the gate at odds of 20-1.
It’s not difficult to understand why. Touriga had finished no better than third in any of her first four U.S. starts, and that lone finish came in a three-horse field at Monmouth in the Matchmaker Stakes (G3).
“Johnny loved this filly the first time he rode her at Monmouth,” Motion said. “But he didn’t have a great trip. It was a crazy race, a three-horse field.”
Touriga was soundly defeated in each of her following three races before triumphing Saturday on a turf course that was listed as good following rain earlier in the day.
“I think maybe having a little give in the course didn’t hurt her because she had won a Grade I in South America on soft grass,” Motion said.
AMERICAN TATTOO WINS H. ALLEN JERKENS
American Tattoo and jockey Jose Ortiz took the early lead in the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens and maintained it to the wire for the win over late-running Shazier. The race was scheduled for two miles on the turf but moved to the main track at 1 1/4 miles.
American Tattoo, bred in Argentina, posted his third U.S. win — and first in a stakes — for owner Calumet Farm/John Anthony Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher.
The 4-year-old colt was coming off a third-place finish at Santa Anita in the Marathon (G2).
Via Gulfstream Park Press release