Eight weeks ago, trainer John Terranova helped deny a promising filly by the name of Negligee her first career stakes victory.
On Friday, an emotional Terranova found himself leading Negligee into Keeneland's winner's circle as he celebrated her first Grade I triumph.
In her first start for her new connections, Negligee ran down favorite She Be Wild in deep stretch to notch a half-length victory in the $500,000, Grade I Darley Alcibiades before 11,442 who braved the soggy conditions on opening day of the Fall Meet.
Negligee's determined win makes the maiden winner a potential Breeders' Cup starter.
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Three weeks after breaking her maiden at Woodbine, Negligee finished second in the Ontario Debutante to Franny Freud — a filly trained by Terranova.
Despite the loss, Terranova and the owners of Sovereign Stable were so impressed with Negligee they purchased her from Quintessential Racing and Norman Casse with plans to run her in the Grade III Miss Grillo Stakes on the turf at Belmont on Oct. 4.
When the Miss Grillo was rained off the turf — and subsequently downgraded to an ungraded race — Negligee's new connections scratched her and opted to make the 11⁄16-mile Alcibiades Plan B.
"This filly impressed us in Canada, she looked like she was on the improve," Terranova said. "This (the Alcibiades) was our backup plan. We knew the (Polytrack) surface wasn't going to be a question, just the two turns."
Under a patient ride from Rajiv Maragh, Negligee aced her first distance test.
With Tidal Pool setting fractions of :24.32 and :48.97 on the front end, Negligee settled in just off the rail and tracked the pace in fifth a handful of lengths off the leaders.
When She Be Wild forged ahead of Tidal Pool to take the lead coming off the final turn, Negligee followed in her path before wearing her down to win in 1:43.76.
"Once she got the lead in the stretch, she pulled away pretty convincingly," Maragh said. "Every time she saw daylight, she wanted to go. But she kind of relaxed behind horses ... so it made her finish better."
She Be Wild, winner of the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie on Sept. 5, was 21/4 lengths clear of third place finisher Amen Hallelujah and could still point for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 6, according to trainer Wayne Catalano.
Had Negligee's connections stuck to their original plan, they likely wouldn't be contemplating making the journey to California.
"I guess that's the logical spot," Matthew Gatsas, managing partner of owner Sovereign Stable, said of the Breeders' Cup. "Hopefully she comes out of this well and we can move forward."