Bank Sting kicks off 5-year-old campaign in La Verdad
by Mary Eddy
Hidden Brook Farm’s and Joe and Anne McMahon’s Bank Sting will vie for her second consecutive stakes victory in Sunday’s $100,000 La Verdad for New York-bred fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going seven furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by John Terranova, Bank Sting won all but one of her six starts during her 4-year-old season, capped by a last-out 8 ¼-length romp in the seven-furlong NYSSS Staten Island at Aqueduct.
The Central Banker filly’s near-perfect season began at the Big A in February with a state-bred seven-furlong maiden special weight score at second asking, leading at every point of call to win by a comfortable 2 ¼ lengths. Bank Sting then made easy work of her first start against winners, stretching out to a mile to take an allowance by open lengths.
With one more allowance victory on her resume, Bank Sting made a winning stakes debut in the Critical Eye at Belmont Park on May 31, dueling with runner-up Good Creedence down the stretch before gamely putting away her rival at the sixteenth pole and drawing away to a 1 ¼ length victory.
Bank Sting’s summer and fall schedule were disrupted after being scratched at the gate in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth on July 17 with her only loss this year coming after a five-month layoff, finishing fifth going 1 1/16-miles in the Empire Distaff at Belmont over a sloppy and sealed main track on October 30.
The bay filly raced just off the pace down the backstretch and raced four-wide in the turn, tiring and finishing eight lengths behind winning filly Sharp Starr.
“I don’t think she had a problem with the distance that day, I think she just needed a race to get her confidence up and get her head in the game,” Terranova said.
Bank Sting regrouped from her defeat with a dominating performance in the NYSSS Staten Island a month later, piloted by Dylan Davis for the first time to an off-the-pace victory.
Terranova said the filly came away from her win ready for another try at stakes company.
“She’s been great and we’ve just been keeping her quiet and happy,” Terranova said. “This looked like the next logical move and she’s coming into it well. She’s looking like she’s ready to go and hopefully it all goes good. Dylan gets along really well with her and she can be a temperamental type. She needs a lot of finesse and you can’t fight with her.
“She’s a good girl and she gives us a good run every time,” Terranova added. “She’s real honest. Hopefully, she just behaves and has a smooth time out of the gate and we’ll let her do her thing.”
Davis will ride Bank Sting again from post 4.
Seasoned mare Letmetakethiscall will be making start number 37 in her first start as a 7-year-old when she exits post 5 on Sunday.
Trained by James Ferraro, the dark bay Take Charge Indy mare, bred in the Empire State by Danzel Brendemuehl and Sandra Lombardo, was last seen finishing third in the Garland of Roses on December 11 at odds of 21-1. Letmetakethiscall’s best performance in 2021 was a 9 ¼ length starter stakes score in the Xtra Heat at Aqueduct in March.
Letmestakethiscall has eight career wins over Aqueduct’s main track but has had tough luck with track conditions lately, making each of her last three starts over a sloppy and sealed track. With rain in the forecast throughout the weekend, the mare will most likely run over a wet track again.
“She’s doing good,” Ferraro said. “It will probably be a little muddy again on Sunday. She likes Aqueduct and the colder weather. Her age isn’t catching up to her. She got the summer off because she got colic and had surgery in April. We were lucky to come back from that. She came back her old self.”
Ruben Silvera gets the call to ride.
Mitchell Friedman, Aqueduct’s co-leading trainer heading into Thursday’s card, will look to kick off the year with a stakes win when Awillaway makes her 6-year-old debut in the La Verdad.
Owned by Kelly Carll, Awillaway enters off a fourth-place effort in the NYSSS Staten Island behind Bank Sting and is looking to earn her first stakes win in her third attempt.
The bay daughter of Dublin has one win from six starts this year, picking up an optional claiming victory going 6 ½-furlongs over the sloppy and sealed Aqueduct main track on November 13.
With Heman Harkie aboard, Awillaway broke last in the field of seven and steadily made her way to the front, going six-wide in the upper stretch and rallying just in time to cross the wire a half-length the better of Breakfastatbonnies in a final time of 1:19.29.
Ridden by Harkie again next time out in the NYSSS Staten Island, Awillaway broke slowly and was bumped at the start, settling in the middle of the field down the backstretch before being shuffled seven-wide down the stretch. Awillaway kept on well to make a bid for show honors, just missing by a neck to a tiring The Important One.
Awillaway worked a bullet five furlongs on December 22 in her final drill for the La Verdad, breezing in 1:01.60 over the fast dirt training track at Belmont.
Andre Worrie gets the call from post 2 aboard Awillaway, who will race with blinkers off.
Trainer and owner Natalia Lynch is seeking the second stakes win of her career with Eloquent Speaker, who will be contesting stakes company for the second time in her career while racing second off the claim from John Kimmel.
The Flatter bay enters from a six-furlong allowance win in open company at the Big A on December 17, rallying from off the pace to pull away in the stretch and win by 1 ¼ lengths under Eric Cancel.
The 4-year-old filly was attractive to bidders at the Keeneland Horses of Racing Age digital sale last year, selling to previous owner Anthony Mitola for $200,000. Eloquent Speaker has put together a respectable career since, now boasting a record of 4-2-3 from 13 starts, with three of her wins coming in 2021.
Cancel will pilot Eloquent Speaker again from post 1.
The Horacio DePaz-trained Courageous Girl rounds out the field, making her first stakes appearance since the Fleet Indian in September 2020 at Saratoga. A well-beaten second in an open company optional claimer last time out at Aqueduct, the grey daughter of Bourbon Courage has visited the winner’s circle once since being claimed four starts back for $35,000 by owners Take a Shot Stables, East Coast Partners, and Liberty House Racing.
Courageous Girl breaks from post 3 with Manny Franco up.
The La Verdad is named in honor of the multiple graded stakes-winning New York-bred mare who collected 11 stakes wins at NYRA throughout her four seasons of racing. With four graded stakes wins and a runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in 2015, the daughter of Yes It’s True was awarded the Eclipse Award for Champion Female Sprinter that year.
The La Verdad is slated as Race 8 with a 3:50 p.m. Eastern post time on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post will be 12:20 p.m.
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