MIAMI GARDENS – The claiming game in thoroughbred racing can be a difficult one at times. Some claims can go south on an owner and trainer quickly while others can have better results. But when it comes to good claims, it is difficult to get much better than the one owner Frank Carl Calabrese and trainer Luis Ramirez put in on Aug. 16 when they nabbed first time starter Verso a Verso out of a maiden race for $16,000.
“We really liked the breeding,” Ramirez said after the daughter of Journeyman Stud stallion Circular Quay had just won the $300,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder Casino and Race Course Saturday. “We really liked the sire and being out of a daughter of Bertrando [the mare Folk Art], we thought we’d take a chance.”
That was one chance that paid off.
Sent off at odds of 10-1 in the My Dear Girl, Verso a Verso broke on top from post two but jockey Angel Serpa dropped her back into a second flight stalking position along the rail inside favorite Putyourdreamsaway while Jewel in the Sky and Candy Coded Kisses set the early pace in tandem. Not much changed through a first quarter-mile in :23.86 and a half mile in :49.08 until the far turn when Jewel in the Sky had nothing left and began to drop back while Candy Coded Kisses maintained the lead with Putyourdreamsaway and Verso a Verso giving chase. At the top of the stretch, Verso a Verso moved to challenge Jewel in the Sky and took the lead quickly as they straightened for home. By this time Putyourdreamsaway and Candy Coded Kisses could not keep up and Verso a Verso separated from the field more with every stride.
At the wire Verso a Verso was five lengths in front with Ashlee’s Princess rallying for second and So Blessed moving into third another six lengths back. The final time for the 1 1⁄16 miles was 1:42.84 over a drying out track rated good.
“I thought she would run good, but not like that,” Ramirez said. “When we got her she was real, real green and she is the kind of filly that doesn’t like to train. But little by little she started to train and she worked real good last time [four furlongs in :52.20 on Oct. 6].”
The optimism off the work turned into realistic hope, into flat out surprise for Ramirez.
“By the half mile I thought ‘we got a shot.’ By the 3/8th pole, the fillies in front started to get tired and I thought we really might win. Then she got the lead. Then when she [started drawing away] and I was surprised.”
Just like the trainer, Serpa was a bit taken back as well, despite what Ramirez had told him in the saddling paddock.
“The trainer told me to let her break and let her sit behind the pace and that she would give me everything turning for home,” Serpa said. “And that’s exactly what she did. She really responded.
“I was a bit surprised because she’s a second-time starter and these other horses had run a few times and some had run good races. But my filly is good. She is a little green, but I think she’s only going to get better. Now I think this is a really good filly and she’s improving all the time and I think she be better next time.”
Putyourdreamsaway, Jewel in the Sky and Candy Coded Kisses finished sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.
Bred in Florida by Brent and Crystal Fernung and Dr. Phil Matthews of Ocala, Verso a Verso now has two wins from as many starts and the first-place check of $178,560 makes up most of her career earnings that now stand at $185,860.
The surprise victory resulted in a win pay-off of $23.40 for supporters of Verso a Verso who also paid $10.20 to place and $8.00 to show. Ashlee’s Princess paid $13.60 and $9.20 with her 14-1 odds and the two combined to produce a $313.00 payoff of a $2 exacta. So Blessed paid $6.80 to show and was part of the $1,587.80 trifecta.
Verso a Verso was a bargain at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company April Sale of Two Year Olds In Training where she sold for $11,000 from the consignment of the Fernung’s Journeyman Bloodstock, Agent. With her victory, Verso a Verso became the first stakes winner for freshman sire Circular Quay.
Photo by Coady