Leading older mare Letruska racked up her fifth straight win – and fourth consecutive Breeders’ Cup Challenge event – in Sunday’s $500,000 Spinster S. (G1) at Keeneland. In a recurring theme, the 2-5 favorite proved impossible to catch after controlling the pace, reiterating her status as the one to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Del Mar.
“This is a horse to change the life of any person,” trainer Fausto Gutierrez said of the Mexican champion who is now in pole position for a divisional Eclipse Award.
“She’s a superstar and she proves (it) every second, every race. She shows her game, her ability at Churchill, at Oaklawn, at Saratoga. She’s a racehorse.”
Letruska left little suspense for fans and opponents alike in the Spinster. Once the daughter of 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) star Super Saver bounded to an uncontested lead with ears pricked, the proverbial handwriting was on the wall. Letruska was on cruise control through fractions of :24.00 and :47.89. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. eased the tempo approaching six furlongs in 1:12.52, allowing her cushion to shrink a bit, but Letruska opened right back up again turning for home.
Dunbar Road and Bonny South, who had been the last two in the early going, emerged as her nearest pursuers down the stretch. As Letruska was kept to task, Dunbar Road lengthened well to reduce the gap to 1 3/4 lengths.
“We had a good trip,” jockey Flavien Prat said of Dunbar Road. “She was traveling well, and I made a good move. I thought turning for home that she responded really well and maybe I could catch her (Letruska). From my position, I was expecting somebody to soften it (the pace) up a little bit because I come from behind, but she had a good trip.”
Bonny South checked in another 2 1/2 lengths back in third, and trainer Brad Cox indicated that the Breeders’ Cup is “still on the table.” Crystal Ball, Envoutante, and Town Avenger rounded out the order of finish, while High Regard was scratched.
Letruska negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.01 and enhanced her resume to 22-17-1-1, $2,236,459. The St. George Stable homebred is a head away from a perfect 2021, just missing to Shedaresthedevil in the Azeri (G2) at Oaklawn. Letruska commenced her streak by outdueling champion Monomoy Girl in the Apr. 17 Apple Blossom H. (G1). She started collecting Breeders’ Cup Distaff tickets in the June 5 Ogden Phipps (G1), where she gained revenge on Shedaresthedevil. Letruska added more “Win and You’re In” laurels in the June 26 Fleur de Lis (G2), Aug. 28 Personal Ensign (G1), and now the Spinster.
“She’s doing so good right now,” Ortiz said. “I think she has great condition, a good trainer. She’s doing unbelievable right now. She was just moving smooth out there. She didn’t go that fast today, but she did it easy, relaxed, and whenever I asked her she was there for me.”
The affable Gutierrez commented with an understatement.
“She right now is one of the top contenders of the division. For her to win (this) Win and You’re In (race) for the Breeders’ Cup … What can I tell you? This is a strong year for this horse.”
Letruska began her career with a seven-race winning spree, the first six in Mexico followed by the restricted Copa Invitacional del Caribe at Gulfstream Park in December 2019. She took time to find her top form in U.S. stakes company in 2020, but scored her graded breakthrough in the Shuvee (G3) at Saratoga. Letruska turned the corner over the winter, with daylight victories in the Dec. 12 Rampart (G3) and Jan. 31 Houston Ladies Classic (G3).
The Kentucky-bred is a half-sister to Grade 1-placed multiple stakes winner Trigger Warning. Their dam, the Grade 2-placed Successful Appeal mare Magic Appeal, is herself a full sister to Grade 1-winning sire J P’s Gusto. This is the family of dual Sovereign Award winner Miss Mischief, and further back, Eclipse champion Proud Spell.