ELMONT, N.Y. – Team Valor International’s La Sardane picked up her first North American stakes victory in the fifth running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Intercontinental for filly and mare turf sprinters on Thursday at Belmont Park, opening day of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, the French-bred La Sardane settled contently in fourth through the early going as California shipper Faypien went straight to the front of the eight-horse field in the seven-furlong contest over the Widener course. Faypien, a multiple stakes winner on dirt trying turf for the first time for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was uncontested through a 22.87-second opening quarter-mile and 45.43 for the half-mile.
La Sardane picked up steam in the far turn and made a four-wide move to catch Faypien near the quarter-pole. The turf novice fought on, but La Sardane dug in to emerge victorious by a neck over a stubborn Faypien.
The final time was 1:20.04. The winner returned $10.80 for a $2 win wager.
Heavenly Score was third, followed by Malibu Stacy, Always Thinking, Delectation, Stormy Victoria, and Thunder Sky to complete the order of finish. I’m Betty G and Lady Alexandra were scratched.
La Sardane was a Group 2 winner in France before moving to Neil Drysdale’s barn for her 4-year-old campaign. She was beaten as the 3-2 favorite in her U.S. debut, finishing 10th in an allowance on April 11 at Keeneland, but turned it around in her May 3 start at Churchill Downs by capturing an allowance optional claimer by 1 ¾ lengths.
“She’s coming along well now,” said Drysdale. “She had a long time off, but Team Valor just said take your time with her, so we gave her plenty of time off. The first race back, things didn’t go quite according to plan, but in the next race, we could see what she was. We cut her back in distance just to teach her and settle her. I think it’s working out well so far.”
La Sardane improves her career record to 4-3-1 from 10 starts for earnings of $268,879.