ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- With an explosive burst that is quickly becoming her hallmark, Gorella passed virtually the entire field in a single furlong and captured the 17th running of the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park on Saturday.
Ridden by apprentice Julien Leparoux, Gorella had just one horse beaten at the top of the stretch, when she suddenly zipped past the rest of the field with an outside run that had the Arlington crowd gasping in wonderment.
Gorella returned $4.60 as the favorite, earning $450,000 from the $750,000 purse. Film Maker, the 3-1 co-second choice, was up in the final strides to be second, 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner and another half-length before the pacesetter, Live Life. Honey Ryder, the other 3-1 second choice, finished fourth. Longshot Chic Dancer was scratched early in the day because of a cough, leaving a field of 10.
The win was the first in a Grade 1 race for Leparoux, who has led the North American rider standings in wins all year. He gave an excited wave of his whip as he approached the wire comfortably in front. Leparoux said he was not concerned about having so much work to do with a quarter-mile remaining in the 1 3/16-mile race.
"Sometimes she gets really relaxed like this," he said.
A 4-year-old French-bred filly owned by Martin Schwartz, Gorella entered the Beverly D. already proven as a highly effective miler, so trainer Patrick Biancone was as interested as anyone to see whether her kick would be as strong at a slightly longer distance. Biancone got the answer he was hoping to get.
"Maybe the distance was a question, but we kept her fresh after her last race," he said, referring to a June 10 victory in the Grade 2 Just a Game Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park, "and we took a gamble with the longer race. She's a machine, and my jockey is the coolest guy, waiting for the last quarter-mile for her to explode."
Schwartz and Biancone also won the Beverly D. last year with a stretch runner, Angara, who eventually was sold. Schwartz was elated with the second straight victory, saying, "I only wish words could express how I feel."
Gorella, by the Caerleon sire Grape Tree Road, finished in 1:53.71 over a firm turf. The Beverly D. record of 1:53.20 was set 16 years ago by Reluctant Guest.
* Morner ($7.40) rated off a fast pace under Leparoux before charging to the front in midstretch and holding off Unreal Rocket by a half-length to win the $46,950 Smart Deb Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. David Vance trains Morner.
* Sampson's Son ($20) got a perfect trip from just off the pace before rolling to a 3 1/2-length victory under Robby Albarado in the $47,400 Cigar Stakes. Straight Line, the 8-5 favorite, narrowly held second over fast-closing Tap Dancing Mauk in a field of eight older horses. Steve Hobby trains Sampson's Son.