A top 2-year-old filly in Italy, Tuttipaesi had won three of four starts in that country when Barry Irwin found her and bought her for the Valor Ladies syndicate that Team Valor International Vice President Megan Jones was putting together.
The first horse for Valor Ladies, Tuttipaesi has taken them on quite the ride.
“We had a number of women in our Team Valor partnerships and they were all fantastic women,” Jones said. “I wanted to get them together and introduce them and do something where they could be more of a coherent group as opposed to having one in one partnership and another in another partnership, where they didn’t cross paths as much. I thought it was also a nice, non-intimidating way for women to be exposed to the idea of running racehorses.”
On the first day of 2013, Tuttipaesi won the Ginger Brew Stakes by two lengths in her U.S. debut for Valor Ladies, defeating a field at Gulfstream Park that included multiple future stakes winners such as Grade 1 winner Discreet Marq.
Tuttipaesi kept hopes high in the Valor Ladies camp when she finished third in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes then ran second in the Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. But after showing her owners the highs of the sport, Tuttipaesi educated them about the lows.
Tuttipaesi was injured in the Ashland and shipped to a farm to recover. That summer, as she was recuperating, she became ill with colitis. It took more than a year for her to bounce back from the combination of injury and illness as her connections let her tell them when, and if, she was ready to return.
“We just took it week by week and let her tell us what she wanted to do,” Jones said. “We had in mind to give her a chance to come back because she was such a nice filly and still young at the time. But she ended up being off for 18 months, and when she did come back she was a bit rusty. It took her a little time to get back to the level she was at before. But she just got a little better every start, just enough to give us enough inclination that we should keep going with her, and eventually she came around.”
Tuttipaesi took four starts to finish in the top three after her return, running second behind Recepta in the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose Stakes in August 2015 to let everyone know she was back in good form. After showing that she wasn’t yet ready for the graded stakes level in her next start, Tuttipaesi returned to the ungraded stakes level again where she won a stakes race at Suffolk Downs.
After that race, Tuttipaesi went through the auction ring at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale and it looked like the partnership on Valor Ladies’ first horse would be coming to an end. But the final bid of $490,000 was not enough to take Tuttipaesi from the group.
Tuttipaesi rewarded them with a second straight win to end her 5-year-old season when beating nine opponents in the South Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
This year, Tuttipaesi’s connections stepped her back up to the graded stakes level in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes and she finished third by 2 ½ lengths. Shipping to Santa Anita for the first time in her career, Tuttipaesi finally got her long-awaited graded stakes win when she beat Glory by a neck in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes. After everything she had been through, Jones was thrilled to see Tuttipaesi finally get the elusive graded stakes victory.
“It was so much fun. She’s special to us anyway and she really deserved one,” Jones said. “I just really wanted that for her and that was such a gratifying moment for her to get that.”
Tuttipaesi took a break after the Santa Ana, returning to the track on July 4 to run in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes at Parx Racing. She finished second, but the way she finished gave trainer Bill Mott and the Valor Ladies group the idea to come to the $700,000 Beverly D. Stakes on Aug. 13 at Arlington Park, where Euro Charline won the race in 2014 for Team Valor.
“[Arlington is] the best to horsemen,” Jones said. “It would be hard to find a track that treated people coming in for a race as well as they do at Arlington, and we have a great time there every year. It’s just such a fun experience throughout the whole weekend.”
With the Beverly D. being a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, Jones said that the Breeders’ Cup would be under serious consideration, but more than that, Jones is hoping to win the Beverly D. so Tuttipaesi can add a Grade 1 victory to her résumé.
“It would be a dream. With Tutti, we’ve been through so much with her that it would be even more gratifying just because she’s very special to us,” she said. “I can’t think of a more exciting horse to win a Grade 1 with than her.”
Tuttipaesi has a tough challenge ahead in the Beverly D. which drew a field of 14 fillies and mares, but no matter what happens it will be another chapter in what has turned into a ride of a lifetime for the group of ladies who took a shot on her.