LOUISVILLE, KY – Trainer Mark Casse’s Salty scored the biggest win of her career, stalking for much of the race before driving clear in the stretch to take Friday’s Grade 1, $350,000 La Troienne Stakes presented by Twinspires.com at Churchill Downs.
Breaking well along the rail under Tyler Gaffalione, Salty moved to the three-path and chased after Farrell‘s large early lead through splits of 24.70, :48.86, and 1:12.82. Exiting the turn still in third but drawing nearer to the lead with every step, Salty commenced a furious rally down while angling slightly toward the rail. The 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road took command in the final 1/16 of a mile and drew off late to hit the wire first by 1 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:43.78 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“She really responded,” said Gaffalione, who like his steed picked up his first grade 1 win. “As soon as the spot opened up on the turn, I just put her there, and she really exploded. I had to keep after her, but she was running. I’m speechless. It’s very exciting, especially on this stage.”
Farrell drifted out a bit in the stretch but still held on for second. Martini Glass looked loaded off of the far turn but flattened out, yet still necked out third over the 3-5 favorite Abel Tasman. Farther back, Tiger Moth and Streamline completed the order of finish. Apologynotaccepted and Ivy Bell were both scratched.
“She made a nice move around the turn and just got tired through the lane,” said Mike Smith, jockey aboard Abel Tasman. “It was just the way the race set up. I really wish the other pace wouldn’t have scratched out of there. That really turned the race into a sprint for home. We weren’t expecting that, of course, and once the scratches came out, being that it was her first race back, I didn’t want to get really aggressive with her early and have her get tired late. I was just gambling, hoping I was a whole lot the best, but those are just nice mares and I underestimated them a little bit. In saying that, though, I’m sure she got a lot out of the race and she’ll come back very well. That race didn’t set up at all for her.”
Salty’s win improved her record to 11-4-2-2 and her career earnings rose to $688,500 after taking the winner’s share of $214,830. Owned by Gary Barber, Baccari Racing Stable, and Chester Prince, Salty won her graded stakes debut (last year’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks) but couldn’t finish better than second in six subsequent grade 1 starts.
“She’s just an extremely talented filly, as I’ve said a few times,” Casse said. “She’s gotten unlucky before. Today, everything worked out well for her. I think Tyler is an up-and-coming star, as does Gary Barber, so we’ve kind of stuck with Tyler and it’s paid off, because he knows her so well. After his last race, he was a little disappointed, and he said ‘We’re going to win a Grade 1’ and I said ‘I know we will,’ and we have faith, and he rode a great race today.”
Win returned $ to win, $ to place, and $ to show. Place brought back $ to place and $ to show, while Show paid $ to show.