The Chad Brown invasion of Del Mar secured its first target in Thursday’s $102,500 Red Carpet Handicap (G3), but backers of his 11-10 favorite Orglandes had a few anxious moments. The French import settled well off a leisurely pace, had to muscle her way out from behind traffic to get up, and endured a stewards’ inquiry before officially winning her stakes debut.
A lack of early tempo was no obstacle for Orglandes in a convincing last-to-first tally in an Oct. 9 allowance at Belmont Park, but finding herself more than a dozen lengths back in a bigger field at Del Mar made for a much closer call.
The 48-1 Aunt Lubie got away with fractions of :24.91, :49.06, and 1:14.71 while comfortably clear of her nearest pursuer, the 15-1 Going to Vegas, who was herself in splendid isolation from the rest. The gap was shrinking at the mile mark in 1:40.08 as the field made up ground the further they went on the backstretch.
Confidently handled by Irad Ortiz, Orglandes was improving her position on the inside until just behind the evolving phalanx of leaders entering the stretch. Going to Vegas played her hand to seize command from Aunt Lubie, and an upset appeared on tap. Blame Debbie and Colonial Creed churned into contention without doing enough to threaten.
Meanwhile, Orglandes had shifted off the fence, with the inside initially blocked by Colonial Creed and Aunt Lubie. But she was pocketed on the outside by Blame Debbie and Quick. Orglandes unceremoniously asserted herself, bumping Blame Debbie who in turn inconvenienced Quick. The favorite exploded into her manufactured seam and nabbed Going to Vegas by a half-length in a final time of 2:15.85 for 1 3/8 miles.
Although Orglandes would have been unlucky to lose by blockade, the stewards had to scrutinize her lack of decorum in the stretch of the Red Carpet. The unanimous ruling was to let the result stand, in the view that eventual third Quick and fifth Blame Debbie were not denied a better placing.
Quick was a length behind Going to Vegas, and a neck up on fourth-placer Colonial Creed, with Blame Debbie another length astern in fifth. Next came Aunt Lubie; California Kook, who never looked to settle in rhythm; Never Be Enough; Hollywood Girl; and Woodfin.
“I wasn’t really worried,” Brown’s assistant Jose Hernandez said of the inquiry. “There was a little bump but nothing serious. Chad talked to the jockey in the morning. He said just to break and play off of it. It’s a mile and three-eighths, a long race, so the jockey can do what he feels. The pace was good and he was in a really good position and then made a strong finish.”
“I had no special instructions – just ride her,” Ortiz said. “I liked where I was throughout the race. We thought this would be a better distance for her. The last time it was too short for her (1 1/8 miles). She got ‘racy’ on me. But this distance is much better for her. She did well with it.”
Ortiz’s comment makes perfect sense since Orglandes routinely competed over longer in her native France. Trained by Carlos and Yann Lerner, the Le Havre filly took six tries to break her maiden in 2019, finally achieving that first win in an about 1 1/2-mile event at Clairefontaine. The big bay made it two straight in a Deauville conditions race at about 1 9/16 miles, and connections were contemplating last fall’s Prix de Royallieu (G1) on Arc weekend.
Acquired by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables, Orglandes instead did not reappear until Sept. 6 at Monmouth. Her third off a year-long layoff, at an inadequate 1 1/16 miles, set her up for her Belmont conquest, and the Red Carpet hints of more to come. The 4-year-old is still relatively unexposed with a record of 10-4-2-3, $154,735.
Bred by S. A. Franklin Finance and Elisabeth Vidal, the €75,000 Arqana October yearling first raced for Gerard Augustin-Normand. Orglandes is out of the Dansili mare Influence. Her second dam is French highweight juvenile filly Moiava, and third dam Mona Stella landed the Prix de l’Opera (G2). Other notable relatives are Group 1 winners Special Quest and Dancing Maid.