ELMONT, NY – Team Valor International’s French-bred filly La Sardane was able to dig in and get up just in time to take a close finish in Thursday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 2 under fellow French-bred Flavien Prat, La Sardane was bumped when Malibu Stacy broke outward from the rail and was then knocked around a bit before settling in mid-pack while Faypien set initial splits of :22.87 and :45.43. Beginning to make her move through the far turn, La Sardane swung out four-wide at the top of the stretch and began fighting for the lead with Faypien and Heavenly Score. Taking command by a head, La Sardane continued to fight while Faypien and Heavenly Score refused to yield. The three battled gamely to the wire, with La Sardane prevailing by a neck in a final time of 1:20.04 for the 7-furlong sprint over a firm Widener turf course.
“She was cutting back in distance today, and she came in for this very sharp,” Prat said. “The first time I rode her, she was really fresh, but since that time, she’s developed very well. In her last race, she was sharp, and she really showed her ability today.”
Faypien was able to nose out Heavenly Score for second, while early troublemaker Malibu Stacy took fourth by a nose over Always Thinking. The remaining foes came across in order as Delectation, the 5-2 post-time favorite Stormy Victoria, and Thundering Sky. Both I’m Betty G and Lady Alexandra were scratched.
La Sardane’s win was her second straight in three attempts in America, following a victory over allowance company at Churchill Downs last month, and was her second career graded score overall after taking the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly last June. The Neil Drysdale-trained 4-year-old daughter of Kingsalsa improved her career record to 10-4-3-1 with earnings of $268,879.
“She’s coming along well now,” Drysdale said. “She had a long time off, but Team Valor just said take your time with her, so we gave her plenty of time off. The first race back, things didn’t go quite according to plan, but in the next race, we could see what she was. We cut her back in distance just to teach her and settle her. I think it’s working out well so far.”
La Sardane returned $10.80 to win, $6.60 to place, and $4.80 to show. Faypien brought back $11.80 to place and $7.30 to show, while Heavenly Score paid $10.40 to show.