La Verdad finds cozy spot in Dancin Renee
By Jon Forbes | 07/02/2014 11:28 AM ET
La Verdad, a winner of three straight stakes races, heads a group of five New York-bred fillies and mares entered in the $100,000 Dancin Renee, a six-furlong dash on Thursday at Belmont Park.
A 4-year-old daughter of Yes It’s True, La Verdad has won eight of 10 starts in her career and has never finished outside the top three since she was fourth in her debut in March 2013. She broke her maiden in her second start, which began a five-race winning streak that ended with a runner-up performance in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap in February at Laurel Park.
This spring at Aqueduct Racetrack, La Verdad won the Broadway for New York-breds by 3 ¼ lengths in March before stepping up in class to register her first graded stakes triumph with a 3 ¾-length score in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap. Both starts came at six furlongs.
La Verdad, who is owned by Lady Sheila Stable, successfully stretched out in distance for her following start, taking her customary spot at the front before digging in to take the one-mile Critical Eye by a hard-fought half-length over Hot Stones on May 31 at Belmont Park. Hot Stones returned to win Belmont’s Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses on June 21.
Immediately following the Critical Eye, trainer Linda Rice said she was pointing La Verdad to Grade 2 Honorable Miss and Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course. The Dancin Renee has been added as a steppingstone to the Spa, Rice said on Monday.
“She hasn’t run since May 31, and I want to keep her sharp going into Saratoga,” Rice explained. “We’re pointing towards the Honorable Miss [on July 28], so the plan is to keep her sharp for that race.”
La Verdad, a front-runner, drew the rail post for the Dancin Renee.
“We have to roll away from there, coming from the one hole, but she seems to find the lead wherever she is,” said Rice.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will replace his brother Jose Ortiz aboard La Verdad, who was installed as the 2-5 morning-line favorite.
Clear Pasaj, who also likes to race on the lead, drew post position 2 for her attempt to win the Dancin Renee for a second straight year. In 2013, she captured the race by a head before adding a nose victory in the Lottsa Talc at Saratoga. In her season finale, she was second by 1 ¾ lengths in the Union Avenue, also at the Spa.
Now 5, Clear Pasaj has made one start this year, behaving fractiously at the starting gate before trailing throughout when ninth in the Dashing Beauty, which was contested in the slop on June 12 at Delaware Park.
Bruce Levine trains Clear Pasaj for owner/breeder AnjesFarm. She was installed at 8-1 on the morning line and will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
The 3-1 second choice on the morning line is Willet, a four-time stakes winner who is making her 6-year-old debut in the Dancin Renee.
In 2012, Willet took the Iroquois by 9 ¼ lengths at Belmont. She is a familiar foe to Clear Pasaj, having finished second in the Lottsa Talc before winning the Union Avenue. She had a busy fall campaign, adding a victory in the Princess Dixie at Belmont, finishing second in the Iroquois and fourth in Aqueduct’s Grade 2 Go for Wand Handicap, and concluding her season with a 5 ¼-length romp in the Touch of Love in December.
Joel Rosario will ride Willet from post 3. She is trained by Jimmy Iselin, who owns her in partnership with Charlotte Assoulin and Eli Gindi.
Miss Da Point, sixth in the Critical Eye, and Risky Rachel, whose accomplishments include a pair of stakes wins at Tampa Bay Downs earlier this year, complete the field.
The field for the $100,000 Dancin Renee (NYB):