ELMONT, N.Y. - In her four previous wins, Artemis Agrotera had never raced more than 1 Â½ lengths off the pace. On Saturday at Belmont Park, the 3-year-old made up a 9 Â½-length deficit to win the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares by a head over La Verdad.
Artemis Agrotera, a two-time Grade 1 winner who was seeking her third graded stakes victory, left from post position 1 in the field of six and settled in fifth as La Verdad shot to the lead from post position 6. With Artemis Agrotera's stablemate Bridgehamtpon pressing in second, La Verdad led by 1 Â½ lengths through an opening quarter-mile in a brisk 21.61 seconds.
La Verdad extended her advantage to three lengths through a half in 43.78 seconds and by four lengths with a furlong to travel, but Artemis Agrotera, who came five wide into the stretch, was inexorably gaining on the pacesetter. Artemis Agrotera drew alongside La Verdad with 30 yards to travel and got up in the final strides under jockey Rajiv Maragh. Willet rallied from last to finish third, one length behind the winner.
Artemis Agrotera, the 2-5 favorite, returned $2.80 for a $2 win wager. The final time for 6 Â½ furlongs was 1:15.49.
"She really didn't enjoy being that far back," said Maragh. "Early on, I tried to keep her in her rhythm. I had a lot of confidence in her and tried to be a good passenger and let her finish strong. I assumed they were going that fast [43.78] because my filly is naturally quick, and if she's 10 lengths off the lead La Verdad had to be going fast to be that far in front of her. In the stretch, my filly found a second wind and a third wind. Even if she had run second or third it would have been a good performance. It shows what kind of filly she is to get up and win the race from where she was."
Winning trainer Michael Hushion said he didn't give any instructions to Maragh before the race.
"I didn't expect [Artemis Agrotera to be that far back]," said Hushion. "I did something very smart: I didn't say anything to Rajiv [Maragh]. He's riding like that - he's making all the right decisions. I'd hate to have him think I wanted something, and he made a great decision here."
In her third start of 2014, Artemis Agrotera won the Grade 1 Ballerina for fillies and mares by 6 Â½ lengths on August 23 at Saratoga. Hushion originally planned to wait for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on November 1 at Santa Anita with Artemis Agrotera, but he changed his mind after watching her train following the Ballerina.
"Now we have six weeks [to the Breeders' Cup]. We can take our time," said Hushion. "She has this under her belt. Like Rajiv said, he learned a lot about her today."
As a 2-year-old, Artemis Agrotera won the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park. The daughter of Roman Ruler was bred in New York by her owners, Chester and Mary Broman. She is 5-0-0 in seven starts and has earned $934,800, including $180,000 for her Gallant Bloom triumph.
Trainer Linda Rice was pleased with La Verdad's performance in the Gallant Bloom, her first start since a pair of fifth-place finishes at Saratoga in the Grade 2 HRTV Honorable Miss in July and in the Ballerina.
"We just had to get her back in the game and let her run her race," said Rice. "The :43 half might have got us beat at the wire, and that's a very nice filly who beat her. I thought she ran great. We're proud of her."
Merry Meadow, Classic Point, and Bridgehampton completed the order of finish.
OTB Race Previews
Bet Greyhound Racing
- Earn Daily Cash Rewards - Win or Lose
- Hundreds of weekly Greyhound races
- Free Live Video & Race Replays