As trainer Fausto Gutierrez sees it, his horse of a lifetime will enter the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on a roll.
On Oct. 10 that dream horse, Letruska, posted a fifth straight victory when she easily put away five rivals in the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. In those five straight wins, Letruska has led at every point of call and her effort Sunday appeared to be easy on her with the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff just less than four weeks away on Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
In knocking down her fourth Grade 1 victory and sixth graded stakes win overall this season, St. George Stable homebred Letruska broke alertly and quickly secured the lead. Racing just off the rail in the first turn, she would open about a 2 1/2-length advantage through a leisurely quarter-mile in :24. While rivals Envoutante, a multiple graded stakes winner, and longshot Town Avenger would move a bit closer in the backstretch, that effort wouldn’t show up at the call as Letruska maintained her 2 1/2-length advantage through a half-mile in :47.89.
Letruska, with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, was just getting started. Coming out of the far turn she would tighten her grip on the race, to open up 3 1/2 lengths on her rivals in midstretch. Grade 1 winner Dunbar Road surged a bit in the stretch but never seriously challenged Letruska as the daughter of Quality Road settled for second, 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner, who completed the 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares in 1:49.01.
The easy Spinster score follows earlier top-level triumphs this season in the Personal Ensign Stakes Presented by Lia Infiniti at Saratoga Race Course, Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park, and Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Her six graded stakes wins this season have come at six different tracks as she also won the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Grade 3 Houston Ladies Classic Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.
“I’ll tell you, this is a horse to change the life for any person,” Gutierrez said, noting that he planned to move forward to the Distaff with the bay mare. “She’s a superstar and she proves [it] every second, every race. She has shown her game, her ability at Churchill, at Oaklawn, at Saratoga. She’s a racehorse.”
Ortiz said it was a smooth trip and noted that Letruska is well-trained.
“She was just moving smooth out there,” Ortiz said. “She didn’t go that fast today but she did it easy, relaxed. Whenever I asked her, she was there for me.”
As a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race, the Spinster awards the winner a fees-paid entry into the Longines Distaff Nov. 6 at Del Mar. Asked about any possibility of taking on males in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, Gutierrez said while he wouldn’t completely rule it out he was strongly leaning toward staying in her division.
Bred in Kentucky, Letruska is out of the Grade 2-placed Successful Appeal mare Magic Appeal, who has produced four other winners including stakes winner and grade 1-placed Trigger Warning and stakes-placed American Doll.
Tiz the Bomb Overcomes Adversity to Win Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes
Tiz the Bomb broke through the starting gate before the start of the $200,000 Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes Saturday at Keeneland and galloped for about an eighth of a mile before jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. was able to get him under control and jog back to the starting gate.
Needless to say, it is not ideal for a racehorse to expend more energy than needed before a race even begins, but despite the adversity Tiz the Bomb proved up to the task in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 2-year-olds.
The Hit It a Bomb colt charged from fifth with an eye-catching rally in the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length as the 2.90-1 favorite for trainer Ken McPeek and owner Phoenix Thoroughbreds. The Bourbon Stakes is part of the “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series, giving Tiz the Bomb and his connections an expenses-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Nov. 5 at Del Mar.
“It’s not a good omen, typically, and yeah, it makes a trainer nervous when it happens,” McPeek said of the prerace incident. “Brian [Hernandez] did a great job wrangling him up and keeping him under control. It’s worse if he comes off or something like that. This horse has got a lot of talent and we’re fortunate to have a guy like Brian who handles things on the oval. He does a great job.”—Staff Report