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Monday, September 21, 2009

Ventura makes history in Woodbine Mile

Ron Gierkink,
Daily Racing Form

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Using her patented kick, Ventura blew away a quality field under Garrett Gomez in Sunday's $1 million Woodbine Mile, becoming the first female to win the Grade 1 race.

The win earned Ventura an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile as part of the Win and You're In program. However, Ventura is being pointed to a defense of her title in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint.

Ventura ($6.20), who was second in this race last year, bided her time on the backstretch in the one-turn mile on the turf, racing about seven lengths off fractions of 23.55 seconds and 46.03 that were set by longshot Grand Adventure.

Ventura saved ground on the turn, was angled wide early in the stretch, and then inhaled the leaders en route to a one-length win over Ferneley in a time of 1:32.04 over the firm going.

Sterwins came wide to nose out Jungle Wave for third, while finishing four lengths behind the winner. Bribon, the 2-1 favorite from New York, was a non-threatening fifth. He was following by Field Commission, last year's winner Rahy's Attorney, Sand Cove, Grand Adventure, and Daylight Express.

"She did everything so well," Gomez said. "I didn't really have to get into her a lot. I squeezed her, but I didn't even use the whip on her today. She ran by them so fast. She did it quite impressively. Coming off a layoff, it was just a tremendous performance."

Bobby Frankel, the trainer of Ventura, has been ill for much of the year and was not at Woodbine on Sunday. The filly shipped to trainer Brian Lynch's barn last week.

Ventura was making her first start since a narrow loss in the Grade 1 Madison Stakes in April at Keeneland, and was noticeably wound up before the race.

"She had those pre-race nerves and was just feeling her oats," Gomez said. "I got her calmed down, and she settled in and did everything right."

Gomez said the yielding ground wasn't to Ventura's liking when she finished second in last year's Woodbine Mile.

"Soft ground hurts her chances, because she has such a beautiful turn of foot," Gomez said. "On soft ground, she's not able to show that explosive move like you saw today."

Alan Garcia, who rode Bribon, this year's Met Mile winner, was at a loss to explain his mount's flat performance.

"I have no excuses," Garcia said. "He had a good trip. [These are] better horses."

Sterwins proved to be the best local runner, after trailing the field for most of the race.

"I was happy with how he ran," jockey Patrick Husbands said. "Sterwins is the kind of horse that you can't confuse. I tried to get him to lay closer. He didn't want to be closer."

Ventura, a daughter of Chester House, earned $600,000 for Juddmonte Farm, boosting her bankroll to more than $2.2 million.

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