Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap
Mildred N. Vessels Memorial Handicap
Reason To Fly MV became only the third sophomore filly since 2007 to win the Grade 1, $125,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap after powering past early leader Apollitical Patty in the final moments of the 400-yard race while also holding off eventual runner-up Kiss Thru Fire’s strong late rush on Sunday at Los Alamitos.
Prior to the start of the race, Apollitical Patty was very fractious in the starting gate. To her credit, she did leave the gate like a flash before fading late. She finished third, only a nose behind Kiss Thru Fire.
After running second in the Golden State Derby (G2) in her last start on August 15, Reason To Fly MV wouldn’t be denied a major stakes win this time around. She trailed Apollitical Patty by about 1 ¾ lengths after the first 100 yards, but after closing the gap in the next 200, Reason To Fly MV completely erased Apollitical Patty’s advantage on the way to crossing the finish line a head in front of Kiss Thru The Fire. In the process, Reason To Fly MV gave owner Paulo Otavio Freire Macedo his first graded stakes victory in the United States.
A leading owner in his native land of Brazil, Freire Macedo has been a stalwart supporter of Quarter Horse racing at Los Alamitos over the past 11 years. During that span, the owner has won 25 races from 141 starts while campaigning stakes winner Solid Connection and graded stakes placed runners King Of Appeals MV and Madam Of Fire MV.
In the Mildred Vessels, Reason To Fly MV got the job done for her owner, as she made up more than a length on the fast flying Apollitical Patty to win the Mildred Vessels. The wins also earned the daughter of the stallion Good Reason SA and the broodmare Take A Look with a presumptive berth to this year’s Grade 1 Champion of Champions. Freire Macedo has been a part of the Champion of Champions before thanks to Dana Point Handicap winner Solid Connection in 2015.
“The filly is of course out of (stakes winner) Take A Look, who we bought out of the Los Alamitos Equine Sale for Mr. Macedo from Dr. Ed Allred,” said Vince Genco, who manages Macedo’s racing stock in the United States. “(Take A Look) topped the sale that year (for $205,000). We bred her to Good Reason SA and Mr. Macedo has a full sister to her in Brazil, who is also very nice. We’ve taken our time with her. She’s very lightly raced. She’s in the Super Derby trials as well. Mr. Macedo has been very patient with her and Jose has done a great job bringing her back. She’s in good shape this year and likes the distance as a 3-year-old. We look forward to bigger and better things from her.”
“I’m very happy for Mr. Macedo, Dr. Gustavo and Vince Genco,” said winning trainer Jose Flores. “They’ve given me the opportunity with (this horse) and we finally got one for Mr. Macedo. I’m very happy, very happy. We put her in this race almost as a prep race for the Los Alamitos Super Derby (trials). We were either going to have to work her or run her here. We decided to run her. I have a ton of respect for Apollitical Patty and all the great horses in this race. They’re all great mares. It was Reason To Fly MV’s turn today and she got 'er done.”
Ridden by Cruz Mendez, Reason To Fly MV covered the 400 yards in :19.882 from post seven, while picking up her fourth win in eight starts. The homebred filly earned $62,500 to take her career bankroll to $172,904. The richest runner campaigned by Freire Macedo in the United States, Reason To Fly MV joins Tequila Sangria in 2019 and Blues Girl Too in 2007 as the other 3-year-old fillies to win the Mildred Vessels in the last 15 years.
“She doesn’t look like 3-year-old filly,” Flores added. “She looks more like she’s a 4- or 5-year-old mare. She’s just massive and today she got it done. I couldn’t be happier for the team, all of my help and everybody that helped us get to the winner’s circle.”
Mendez, who has ridden many of Flores’ biggest graded stakes winners, was certainly one of the most important figures in helping Reason To Fly Mv’s get this victory.
“I was about neck behind right at the start and then a little more after that,” Mendez said. After she went in a little bit she started catching up. With about 100 yards to go, she really started coming on strong. I knew we were in a good spot. She came strong late. At the end we won easily.”
Mendez credited Reason To Fly for remaining cool while Apollitical Patty acted up in the gate.
“She was very calm and didn’t move at all,” Mendez said of the winner. “I think that’s what helped her break so well.”
Trainer Juan Aleman, who has saddled a record five winners in this race, came up just a bit short with Kiss Thru Fire in his attempt to pick up a sixth Mildred Vessels victory. Racing from post number three, Kiss Thru Fire earned $21,250 for her second-place finish to take her career bankroll over the $500,000 mark. The 4-year-old Walk Thru Fire mare has now earned $509,400 in her career.
Prior to the start, Julianna Hawn Holt’s Apollitical Patty reared back a couple of times while in the starting gate. Once the gates kicked open, the filly by Apollitical Blood scooted out of there in a hurry to take the lead, but her gate antics caught up to her at the midway point. She started coming back to the pack at that point and eventually ran third. Apollitical Patty earned $12,500 for the effort and this amount takes her lifetime bankroll $1,089,542.
The top three were followed by Suite Expectation, A Dash Of Sign, Fayvorite Chick, Rite On Time, Elphaba, and J Best Boogie.
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