It came about a week later than expected. But Aruna was not going to be denied in her latest opportunity to show how impressive her talents are.
Eight days after being scratched out of the Grade I Flower Bowl at Belmont when the turf came up too soft for her liking, favored Aruna turned her Plan B into a showcase for her 'A' game Sunday when she captured the Grade I, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster by half a length on the Keeneland Polytrack, her first top-level win in 12 career starts.
While trainer Graham Motion was hoping the 11/4-mile Flower Bowl would set Aruna up for a possible run at the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, he knew the 4-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley would hate the wet conditions that drenched New York and that her regular training at his base in Fair Hill meant she would likely take to Keeneland's synthetic surface.
The affable horseman was right on more than one account. But now, Motion and owners Flaxman Holdings have to decide whether the homebred Aruna goes in the 13⁄8-mile Filly and Mare Turf or tries dirt for the first time at her preferred distance of 11⁄8 miles in the Ladies' Classic.
"It's something we'll talk about for sure," Motion said of a possible Ladies' Classic start. "I'd love to take the approach of giving her a work over there, and I really like the mile and an eighth for her. I think it's a great distance for her but I think (the Ladies' Classic) is a wide-open race.
"We'll see how it goes. She's a special filly, this filly."
Ever since she came to the United States from France in the summer of 2010, Aruna has done nothing but impress Motion.
In her seven North American starts, Aruna has five wins and has never been worse than second, including a runner-up finish in the Grade I Diana at Saratoga on July 30.
Her strong closing kick earned her a victory in the Grade II Mrs. Revere over the Churchill Downs turf last November, and it was on full display again Sunday when she swept up seven-wide coming off the final turn after rating in seventh in the 12-horse field. Aruna then drove home brilliantly under right-handed urging from jockey Ramon Dominguez, finishing in 1:47.88 for the 11⁄8-mile test.
"They were really high on her in France, but she started bleeding, and that's why she came over here, so she could run on (the anti-bleeder medication) Lasix," Motion said. "Her first race at Saratoga was spectacular. She was dead last turning for home, no horses were winning from off the pace, and she won like it was very easy. She's a horse who impressed me from day one to be honest."
Pachattack held for second, 11/4 lengths in front of 27-1 longshot La Gran Bailadora, who came from next to last to get third.
"She just kept digging. She never gave me the sense she was going to slow down by any means," said Dominguez, who guided Aruna to her sixth career win as she boosted her earnings to $759,379. "She proved she loves the surface, too."