NEW YORK S. | 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | FILLIES AND MARES | GRADE 2 | 1 1/4-MILES (INNER TURF)
Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 New York Stakes appeared a two-horse race on paper, and so it proved as Juddmonte Farms' homebred Riposte justified 6-5 favoritism from the 3-2 second choice Tannery at Belmont Park. Executing a well-timed move to take command entering the stretch, Riposte put the race away by the time that her main rival launched her bid, and crossed the wire 1 1/4 lengths clear.
A close relative of undefeated phenom Frankel, Riposte was coming off her first U.S. victory, a front-running verdict in the May 24 Sheepshead Bay over 1 3/8 miles on the yielding Widener turf. Different circumstances were in play on Saturday -- the slight cutback to 1 1/4 miles, on a firm inner course, and a reversion to stalking tactics -- but the Bill Mott mare was every bit as effective in a convincing performance.
Brazilian import Viva Rafaela showed her trademark early foot through fractions of :24 4/5, :49 4/5 and 1:13 1/5, tracked by Gathering and Scampering. Riposte was well within striking range in fourth under a snug hold by Joel Rosario, while racing in the clear on the outside. In contrast, the late-running Tannery was bottled up from her rail post, and Inimitable Romanee was unhurried at the rear.
On the far turn, Gathering drew alongside Viva Rafaela, but Riposte was also on the move. Although the trio raced abreast for a few strides, the eventual winner was clearly going best of all, and she kicked away with authority. Tannery produced a robust rally once angling out down the lane, but Riposte was gone. After stopping the clock in 1:59 3/5, Riposte furnished a win mutuel of $4.60.
"I think the longer distances have probably helped her," Mott said. "She broke a little slow, so she was fourth instead of second or third, but she was still within range of the leaders. She rated very nicely and kicked very well. She punched pretty good off a slow pace."
"Last time, there was no speed. Today, I just let her run her race," Rosario said. "I rode her in Florida when she came from off the pace. She can do anything. She's a little filly, but it looks like she can do a lot of things. I tried to get on the outside. I didn't want to be caught wide, but I wanted a clean trip and not get stuck inside. She got the job done today."
Tannery was best of the rest by three lengths from Viva Rafaela. Next came Scampering, Gathering and the ever-trailing Inimitable Romanee.
Riposte's resume now reads 11-4-3-1, $462,587. Originally trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, the daughter of Dansili wasn't ready to begin her career until she turned three. Riposte was runner-up in her debut in a 1 1/4-mile maiden at Sandown last spring, promptly scored next time over 1 1/2 miles at Newmarket, and stayed at that trip over the summer. She emphatically handled the rise into Group 2 company for the Ribblesdale, just nine days after the passing of Sir Henry, and thereby handed Lady Cecil a poignant winner at the Royal meeting.
Subsequently fifth in the Irish Oaks, but beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by Chicquita, Riposte ran well below form when fifth in the Yorkshire Oaks. She was only seventh in the about 1 9/16-mile Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp on Arc weekend, her European finale.
Riposte made her American premiere for Mott in the February 8 Suwannee River at Gulfstream Park, where she broke slowly and found herself well off an early crawl in the 1 1/8-mile event. The bay rattled home belatedly for second, however, in an encouraging performance. Again lining up in an about nine-furlong test in the March 8 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs, Riposte once more closed too late and had to settle for third. Her sights were lowered to an April 11 Keeneland allowance, but still at 1 1/8 miles. Although she got involved earlier and struck the front, she was outkicked and just denied.
Clearly seeking a step up in trip, Riposte has since responded by winning two straight Grade 2 events in the Sheepshead Bay and New York.
"We have nothing planned for her right now," Mott said. "It's too close to run her back in the Diana (July 19 at Saratoga), so she won't do that."
Bred in Great Britain, Riposte is a three-quarter sister to Kind, dam of the unconquerable Frankel and his Group 1-winning full brother Noble Mission. In the form of his life at the moment, Noble Mission brings a three-race winning streak -- the April 25 Gordon Richards, May 8 Huxley and May 25 Tattersalls Gold Cup -- into Sunday's Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Kind has also produced Bullet Train, Frankel's Group 3-winning three-quarter brother and sometime pacemaker, and multiple stakes victress and Group 3-placed Joyeuse, most recently runner-up in the June 12 Ballyogan.
Riposte was produced by Group 3 queen Rainbow Lake. That Rainbow Quest mare has turned into a blue hen with such offspring as Irish highweight and millionaire Powerscourt; Group 3 victor Last Train; and the aforementioned Kind, a Group 3-placed multiple stakes winner herself.