ELMONT, N.Y. -- It looks like England's Legend will have a say in the female turf division after her 1 1/2-length win over favored Gaviola in Saturday's $250,000 New
York Handicap at Belmont Park.
Gaviola set an uncontested pace in the 1 1/4-mile New York over the inner turf, carving out fractions of 23.76 seconds, 47.82, 1:11.25, and 1:35.48. England's Legend,
ridden by Corey Nakatani, tracked the leader from second position until drawing on even terms with Gaviola, who was ridden by Jerry Bailey, with a furlong remaining.
Gaviola, racing on the rail, didn't give in easily, and the two fillies battled down the stretch before England's Legend, the second choice, pulled away for the win.
Bailey didn't offer any excuses for Gaviola's performance. "She ran her race," he said. "We were run down by a filly who was slightly better."
Spook Express had trouble in the stretch but put in a late run to finish third, three-quarters of a length behind Gaviola, the 119-pound highweight in the seven-horse
field of fillies and mares.
Completing the order of finish were Melody Queen, Windsong, Jazz, and Playact.
England's Legend ($9.20) carried 115 pounds, three more than she was assigned. The final time was a swift 1:59.63 over a very firm turf course.
The Grade 2 New York was England's Legend's third start in this country for trainer Christophe Clement. She ran fourth at Gulfstream in February in her U.S. debut,
then won a first-level allowance race at Santa Anita in March. She was given some time off for a splint problem after that win.
Nakatani was aboard England's Legend for her win at Santa Anita and said he was impressed with the 4-year-old filly even then.
"I've gotten a lot of opportunities to ride good horses and she is very special," Nakatani said. "She could get a championship. I was confident today and was just biding
my time with her."
England's Legend, a daughter of Lure, is a candidate for the Grade 1 $700,000 Beverly D. at Arlington Park on Aug. 18.
Clement, who trains England's Legend for Edouard de Rothschild, said, "She's an improving filly and trained really well for this."
Gaviola's trainer, Bill Turner, said he would consider the $500,000 Diana Handicap at Saratoga on Sept. 3 for his filly's next start.