Arlington Million

Barn Notes: Friday, July 26, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/26/2013 #
  • La Tia (photo by Michael Adolphson)

In Today’s Notes: La Tia to Lead the Home Team in Beverly D.

There is no disputing the fact that La Tia is the reigning queen of Arlington International Racecourse.  In this, it is only fitting that the state-bred daughter of City Place represent the home team in the track’s marquee event for fillies and mares, the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes. 

Owned by Salvador Hernandez’s Chicago-based Hernandez Racing Club and trained by local conditioner Armando De La Cerda, La Tia has earned her way to this district designation by winning six of her 12 races and five of her seven at Arlington – including three stakes.  Still, even with all her local success, she may be overlooked by the betting public when August 17 rolls around and she takes on some of the best turf fillies in training.

Being the underdog is nothing new for La Tia and is no problem for her confident conditioner.  “She is doing very well.  She’s been very happy and won’t stop eating.  I like how she’s training right now.  I think I have a chance to win,” De La Cerda said of the filly who has only been the betting favorite in two of her six wins. 

La Tia began the season by dismantling a stakes-quality allowance at Arlington over good going and followed that with an even more impressive win over state-bred stakes horses in the Lincoln Heritage Handicap while carrying top weight of 123 on yielding turf.  On July 13 in a salty renewal of the Grade III Modesty Handicap – the trip prep for Beverly D. – she had her first experience with a firm turf course and experienced more pace pressure than she had in previous runs. 

Though the aforementioned factors ultimately led to La Tia’s first loss of the season, they also divulged a new distinction in the filly.  When headed at the top of the stretch – something that had never happened in any race in which she had set the pace – she valiantly fought back and gave that rival (Artemus Kitten) everything she could handle.  Unfortunately for both fillies, they were prey to a crafty stalking ride by James Graham on eventual winner Ausus. 

“I think the turf was also drying out that day and no horses were holding on the front end,” De La Cerda reflected.  “She showed that she belongs with those fillies.  I was nervous before the race because of the tough horses and the distance, but she proved she is just as good.”  La Tia would go on to lose the Modesty by slightly more than two lengths and earn a career-high Equibase Speed Figure of 108, while losing to two fillies to whom she was giving two pounds each under the handicap conditions. 

“Right after the Modesty, she came out more fit.  She is much stronger now.  When you touch her neck you can feel how solid she is.  She’s like a colt,” De La Cerda gushed.  “Luis Garcia, her exercise rider, says she is feeling very strong and he is really high on her right now.  He has done a great job with this filly and got her to relax.” 

Relaxing will be key if La Tia is to be competitive against adversaries like expected favorite Marketing Mix and the highly regarded European Gifted Girl.  “She’s feels good right now and Mr. Hernandez and I decided ‘why not?’  There are a lot of races she could go in, but I prefer to run her here.  And, if the track turns up soft, I know she likes it,” explained the freshman conditioner. 

As far as after the Beverly D., De La Cerda plans on making some more noise with the star of his barn.  “We are going to look at Keeneland with her.  She can run on both the turf and the Polytrack,” he said of the filly whose two Polytrack stakes wins include the 2012 Grade III Arlington Oaks.  “But, for now, the owner and I are excited to run in the Beverly D.  She is going to work an easy five-eighths on the Polytrack on Saturday and then have a couple more works before August 17.”