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Letruska takes the field the whole way around in G3 Shuvee

SARATOGA SPRINGS — St. George Stable’s Letruska was fast early and had just enough late to garner her first graded stakes score in the United States when leading the field from start to finish in Sunday’s 44th running of the Grade 3, $125,000 Shuvee for older fillies and mares over the main track at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Fausto Gutierrez, Letruska won an early battle for command of the pace and led the strung-out field into the first turn, with Our Super Freak in second and reigning Shuvee winner Golden Award to her outside in third. Jockey Joel Rosario had Letruska relaxed on the front end as the Super Saver bay led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.05 and the half-mile in 46.20 seconds on the fast main track.

Around the far turn, Letruska extended her advantage to three lengths through three-quarters in 1:09.51. Rosario did not begin asking his charge until the field hit the quarter pole with several others unleashing their bids. At the eighth pole, Letruska appeared leg weary as stakes-placed fillies Royal Flag and Our Super Freak were gaining on the pacesetter to the inside. Both fillies were too little too late as Letruska hung on for a one-length victory in a final time of 1:48.94. A rallying Royal Flag earned the place spot by three-quarters of a length over Our Super Freak.

Rosario earned a tenth stakes score aboard Letruska, pacing all riders for the Saratoga meet.

“She’s fast. She always fires, but at a mile and an eighth, I didn’t know,” Rosario said. “But she kept fighting. I always planned to have a little more left for the end. It looks like she runs that way, she likes to go. She did it well on her own.

“I thought I would find myself on the lead and hopefully have a little left at the end,” Rosario continued. “She’s super fast. If I asked her, she’d probably go [a half-mile] in 45. She relaxed nicely. I put my hands down and she was really calm and happy. It was a very good performance.”

Letruska, a last-out fifth in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Ballerina on August 8 at the Spa, picked up a third victory during her 2020 campaign having taken a 1 1/16-mile allowance event at Oaklawn Park and the Added Elegance going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park two starts back. She won Group 1 victories in Mexico when taking last year’s Clasico Esmeralda and Clasico Diamente by open lengths, both at Hipodromo De Las Americas.

Gutierrez said that he tried to get his filly into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on November 7 at Keeneland by running her in the Ballerina, which was a “Win And You’re In” event.

“After the last race in Miami, when she went in 23 and 44 in the one-mile race, I had the idea she could come to seven furlongs,” Gutierrez said. “I tried to go to the Breeders’ Cup with her. I know it’s a big jump, bigger step, and the Ballerina was the only race to give me that perception. That was a very difficult race and the filly was very nervous here in the paddock.”

Gutierrez said that Letruska was more relaxed Sunday in the paddock and relished the added distance.

“She went very fast in the beginning but at the end she had horse. At the start, she didn’t get the best jump,” Gutierrez said. “The first jump was a little bit slow, but after that she started to improve; 23 and 46 I think that’s perfect. She’s a filly that needs speed and distance. This is obvious in her races here and in Mexico. In Mexico, she doesn’t have the big competition, but she made very good times. I think this is the kind of race she can run. I don’t know how many fillies can go with her in 46. Today, she was perfect in the paddock.”

A win in the Shuvee has given Gutierrez faith that Letruska has what it takes for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and said he would likely point for the Grade 1, $400,000 Spinster on October 4 at Keeneland, which is a “Win And You’re In” event for the Distaff.

“I think the next step would be at Keeneland in a Grade 1 for the Breeders’ Cup. Two turns is perfect for her,” Gutierrez said.

Returning $9.30 as the second choice for a $2 win bet, Letruska improved her record to 13-10-0-1, with a bulk of her victories taking place in Mexico. She improved her lifetime earnings to $243,539.

Completing the order of finish were Golden Award, Lucky Stride, Bellera, Another Broad, Nonna Madeline and Lucky Move.

A Kentucky homebred, Letruska is out of the Successful Appeal broodmare Magic Appeal.

The Shuvee honors Ann Minor Stone’s Hall of Famer and two-time Champion Older Female, which she earned in 1970-71. In addition to sweeping the Triple Tiara in 1969, which consisted of the Acorn, Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks, Shuvee beat males in back to back editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which at the time was run at two miles.

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