by Ryan Martin
In her first career start outside of France, Edisa backed up her favoritism, coming off a slow pace to make a winning bid down the stretch to capture the inaugural running of Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational, the final leg of the Turf Tiara for sophomore fillies at Belmont Park.
Breaking from the rail under Flavien Prat, the chestnut daughter of Kitten's Joy settled along the hedge in sixth position into the first turn as two-time winner Romantic Pursuit recorded leisurely opening fractions of 25.10 for the opening quarter-mile and 51.56 for the half over the inner turf course labeled good with 23-1 longshot Dyna Passer to her outside in second.
With three-quarters of a mile covered in 1:17.50, Prat kept Edisa tucked along the rail but moved her one path over around the far turn. With Romantic Pursuit still in front at the top of the stretch, Edisa made a five-wide move and powered down the lane while Wonderment, who was two paths to her inside, briefly emerged with the lead. Edisa, full of run, took command in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by three-quarters of a length, completing the 1 3/8-mile journey in 2:17.02. Wonderment was 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Dyna Passer who rounded out the trifecta.
Romantic Pursuit, Love So Deep, Lady Prancealot, Art of Almost and Desert Ride completed the order of finish.
"She broke slow and I was on the inside," Prat said. "I wasn't really happy with where I was, and they slowed down a lot up front. They went at a slow pace, but I'm very happy she really gave me a good turn-of-foot."
Owned by His Highness The Aga Khan and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Edisa netted her third career victory in the Jockey Club Oaks, which came after two runner-up finishes against group stakes company in France.
"Her main quality is a quick turn-of-foot and she was able to show it here today. She was able to track early and when she finished late, she was able to come on strong with her quick turn of foot," Royer-Dupre said. "It's a great pleasure to win at Belmont Park today. I was last here in 1985, so it's great to return and win. It's a beautiful track and it's nice to run here and win with a top horse."
Royer-Dupre, who saddled Lashkari to a win in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Turf in 1984, scored his first American stakes win since Bayrir took the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington Park in 2012.
Royer-Dupre said that future plans for Edisa remain undetermined, but did not rule out coming back to North America for the Breeders' Cup, which will be hosted at Santa Anita Park in November.
"I preferred the good ground today. I was only concerned if the turf changed from good to soft because she's better on firm," Royer-Dupre said. "She's well-bred. Her father, Kitten's Joy, is American and the mother is from a great Aga Khan family for long distance. She takes the speed of the father and the staying of the mother, so it was nice to see today. I don't know yet if we'll go onto the Breeders' Cup. We'll watch the weather during the weekend of the Arc [de Triomphe] and perhaps see if the ground is good. Perhaps we can go on from there and return to Santa Anita, but we'll put it all under consideration."
Edisa, who now boasts a 7-3-2-1 lifetime record, brought her career earnings to $500,111 taking home the winner's share of $400,000. Edisa paid $5.20 for a $2 win ticket.
An Aga Khan homebred, Edisa is out of the Rock of Gibraltar broodmare Ebiyza, who was a Group 2 winner in France.
Nicolas Clement, trainer of runner-up Wonderment, said that he was pleased with his filly's performance.
"It was a good effort. The two French fillies ran one-two, so you can't really ask for a better result than that traveling from Europe," Clement said. "They are both very nice fillies. We had a great trip. She really traveled well. She's owned by a great lady [Stella Thayer]. She showed she can come to the U.S. and be competitive in a top race, so we'll go home and see where we go from here. But this was a very good result. We were just unfortunate to not be on top at the finish."
Live racing resumes on Sunday at Belmont with a 9-race card highlighted by the $100,000 Allied Forces. First post is 1 p.m.