FRANKLIN, KY – A long flight from California and a long stretch drive weren’t enough to keep Insta Erma from the winner’s circle after she prevailed at the wire by a neck to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes.
Breaking without incident from post 9 under fellow west coast shipper Drayden Van Dyke, Insta Erma was content to sit back early. Meanwhile, I’m Betty G broke sharply from the rail as the 5/2 favorite and set fractions of :25.60, :48.60, and 1:13.10. Running down the middle of the track, Insta Erma began advancing through the far turn before commencing a strong rally the length of the stretch. Catching new leader Valadorna in the final 1/16, the Richard Baltas trainee crossed with a neck advantage in a final time of 1:36.26 for the mile-long run over a good turf surface.
“I was being patient with her,” said Van Dyke, who also teamed up with Baltas to win Thursday’s $250,000 Old Friends Stakes. “It’s a long stretch. I felt I had a lot of horse underneath me and I was waiting for the right time, thought that was the key to asking.”
Tough-luck Valadorna was clear of Pas de Soucis by 2 lengths, while Storm the Hill couldn’t take advantage of her prime stalking position and flattened to finish fourth. I’m Betty G weakened to fifth, necking out In the Lee, while Dubara also faded and only headed Bonnie Arch to complete the order of finish. Hallie Belle and Oh So Terrible were both scratched.
Insta Erma’s win was her first since taking the $70,000 Swingtime Stakes at Santa Anita last October and improved her overall record to 19-5-4-2. The 5-year-old daughter of Pioneerof the Nile has now earned $569,897 for owners Medallion Racing, Premier Racing Club, Jerry McClanahan, and Christopher Johnson.
“The owners are pretty happy right now,” Baltas said. “We’re just very grateful. She was actually coming off a layoff, so we gave her some time after the Santa Anita meet. She was a little sore, just body sore and needed a little break. I got her back at the beginning of Del Mar, so I got like four or five works on the grass at Del Mar. We were looking for a race, and the guys said let’s send her here. They found the spot. We were thinking the Ladies Sprint or here. We thought this would probably be better, the mile. It was an owner-trainer decision and just worked out.”
Insta Erma returned $15.40 to win, $8 to place, and $5.60 to show. Valadorna brought back $12.60 to place and $8.40 to show, while Pas de Soucis paid $4.80 to show.