September 26, 2020

Venetian Harbor, Lucrezia romp in Kentucky Oaks preps

Venetian Harbor wins the Las Virgenes (G2) © BENOIT PHOTO

Coming off a 10 3/4-length maiden win, Venetian Harbor was sent off at 3-10 in a not-overly-deep renewal of the $200,000 Las Virgenes (G2) at Santa Anita on Saturday. The expectations were great, but the Munnings filly delivered impressively in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series prep.

Rocketing out to six-length lead after a quarter-mile, Venetian Harbor was more relaxed down the backside and slowed the pace noticeably around the far turn. However, that breather enabled the filly to find a lot more in the stretch, increased her advantage from one length to 9 1/4 lengths at the finish while under hand encouragement from Flavien Prat.

Owned by Ciaglia Racing, Highland Yard, and River Oak Farm, Venetian Harbor returned $2.60 after running a mile in 1:37.51 over a fast track. Gingham, Stellar Sound, and Go Big Blue Nation completed the top four, while Cholula Lips weakened to last in the five-horse field.

“The plan was to break and just get her to relax. She’s very strong and Flavien did a great job, getting her to relax,” said trainer Richard Baltas. “He said he was hanging on to her the whole way. It looked like at the three-eighths pole we might get passed but I was just hoping the public was right.

“I am very happy that she got the two turns, that was a little bit of a concern today. She had never been two turns and this is a tiring track. She trains at San Luis Rey, she is doing good down there I didn’t want to change anything. She delivered today. It looks like now she may have to do some moving around, hopefully she comes back well and we will see (where we go next). She passed the first test.”

Kentucky Oaks qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 were awarded to the top four finishers. All but Gingham earned their first points; that filly increased her total to five points following an earlier fourth-place run in the Starlet (G1).

Venetian Harbor preceded her romping Dec. 29 maiden win over 6 1/2 furlongs with a narrow second in her Del Mar debut going 5 furlongs on the turf. She’s now earned $163,400.

Bred in Kentucky by Colts Neck Stable, Venetian Harbor was a $110,000 Keeneland September yearling. She’s out of the multiple stakes-placed Sounds of the City, by Street Cry.

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A half-hour after springing an upset of Got Stormy with Jehozacat in the Endeavour (G3), trainer Arnaud Delacour and jockey Daniel Centeno were back in the Tampa Bay Downs’s winner’s circle following Lucrezia‘s five-length romp in the $100,000 Suncoast.

Second behind pacesetter Two Sixty through the opening half-mile, Lucrezia took control from that rival around the far turn and widened her lead all the way to the wire, finishing off one mile and 40 yards over a fast track in 1:39.99.

Owned by Edward Seltzer and Beverly Anderson, who bred the filly with Krista Seltzer, Lucrezia paid $13.80. Turtle Trax edged 3-1 favorite Motu for second by three parts of a length, with Comical fourth. The order of finish was rounded out by Two Sixty, Embossed, We the Clouds, Blame Debbie, and Miss Important.

As part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, the Suncoast awarded qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers. While Lucrezia and Turtle Trax were earning their first Oaks points, Motu was increasing her total to six points and Comical boosted her total to five.

Second in her 6-furlong, main track debut at Keeneland in early October, Lucrezia returned later than meet to break her maiden by two lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Fifth in a 6-furlong grass stakes at Aqueduct the following month, Lucrezia rebounded to take the Dec. 7 Sandpiper S. at Tampa over 6 furlongs, winning by 1 3/4 lengths as the even-money choice. She’s now earned $150,800.

The Kentucky-bred Lucrezia is by Into Mischief and out of Grade 3 heroine Verdana Bold, by Rahy.