SUWANNEE RIVER S. | PURSE: $150,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/8 MILES (TURF)
Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Suwannee River was devoid of early speed, and horse-for-the-course Parranda seized the opportunity to steal the 1 ⅛-mile race under a canny ride by Jose Lezcano. Conversely, Juddmonte blueblood Riposte had little chance trying to rally from the rear in her U.S. debut, and did well to get up for second over a trip shorter than ideal.
Owned by Lone Stable and trained by Rodolfo Garcia, Parranda was sent off as the 2-1 second choice after her decisive victory in the January 18 Florida Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf last time out. That marked her fifth win over the Gulfstream turf. Her Suwannee River heroics advanced her local mark to 11-6-0-2, including all four career stakes scores, and her overall line reads 20-8-2-2, $448,655.
Parranda secured the lead through a slow opening quarter in :25 on the firm turf, and went on to waltz through fractions of :51 ⅕ and 1:15 ⅕. Abbey Street and 8-5 favorite Abaco raced in close attendance on the outside, while Riposte, a step slow to begin, was unhurried near the back of the compact group.
Injecting a serious burst of speed rounding the far turn, Parranda established a daylight advantage into the stretch. The English Channel mare reached the mile split in 1:37 ⅘ and kept motoring her final furlong en route to a final time of 1:49. The two-length winner paid $6.20.
"I checked out the race and did my homework and didn't see any speed," Lezcano said. "She broke clean and I tried to slow down the pace as much as I could. She's the kind of filly, no matter what position she's in, she's going to finish. She has a lot of talent."
"When you ride these riders, you don't really tell them much," Garcia said. "The only thing I said was, 'Jose, there is no speed.' He said, 'I know.' After the race, he said, 'I was going to the lead, regardless,' so he knew, too. It worked out well. I saw the fractions and I knew they were going to go slow, even though they tried to pick it up a little bit. I see a :25, just easy, and :51, and she's going to be up close anyway because when you go that slow and you have a horse than can now rate with no pace."
Riposte rode the rail home and took the runner-up spot by a half-length. Abaco, second in the 2013 Suwannee River, had to settle for third. Next came Malibu Yankee, Caroline Thomas, Ainsley and Abbey Street. Nicki Starshine, who was pulled up at the top of the stretch, had to be vanned off the course.
Parranda began 2013 as a $50,000 claimer, but soon progressed through the allowance ranks and worked her way into stakes company. After a fifth in the July 28 Matchmaker at Monmouth, she missed by a head to Valiant Girl in the August 24 Omnibus in course-record time at the same venue. Parranda then reeled off a quick stakes double at Gulfstream, rolling to a 2 ¼-length decision in the September 28 Our Dear Peg before adding the Filly & Mare Turf Preview on November 9. Fourth in the December 7 My Charmer Handicap at Calder, Parranda rebounded in style back at Gulfstream in the Florida Sunshine Millions.
"Her first start was at Gulfstream," Garcia noted, referring to her debut victory over a grassy mile on February 4, 2012. "I only paid $13,000 for her and she galloped that race. She had a couple of issues here and there, so we sent her home and she came back. She had another issue and had to be sidelined, and when she came back this last time every single race has been good.
"When we came back last year, she hung around for a while. I ran her for $50,000 and if I had known how good she was going to be afterward, I would not have done it, but you take your chances after horses come off a big layoff."
Garcia is pondering the way forward for Parranda.
"Now there's no restricted races," the trainer said. "There were a couple of horses that beat me before that were not in this race, but there were a couple of other nice horses in there and she did it convincingly. We'll see what happens now and look at options.
"She loves it here. We'll see. They have tried to buy her, but at the end, something has happened. Maybe after today, I don't want her to sell, but if the price is right. There was enough money, but at the end apparently something happened and they didn't buy her.
"But, the price keeps rising. Now you've won a Grade 3, the price is not the same."
Bred by Kinsman Farm in the Sunshine State, Parranda went to her current connections for $13,000 as a two-year-old in training at OBS April. She is the first registered foal from the winning Rahy mare Dynamic Feature, who is herself a half-sister to Canadian Grade 3 victress Sisterly Love. Parranda's second dam, Odylic, is a full sister to Grade 1-winning sire Dixie Brass.