Shedaresthedevil (inside) holds off Letruska to win the Azeri under Florent Geroux
Shedaresthedevil, winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks last September, made a winning return to the races at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark., on Saturday, going right to the front, controlling the pace and holding off a late bid in deep stretch from favored Letruska to win the G2, $250,000 Azeri Stakes by a short head.
Off since tiring in the stretch to be third in the G1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland in her lone start against older fillies and mares in 2020, Shedaresthedevil covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.57 and paid $5.60 as the second choice in the wagering. She carried 119 pounds, five fewer than Letruska.
Letruska, a star at Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City before coming to the U.S. late in 2019, finished second in the field of five in her bid for a third consecutive graded stakes win. Encoutante finished third, with Getridofwhatailesu fourth and Motion Emotion fifth.
A 4-year-old filly by Daredevil owned by Qatar Racing, Big Aut Farms and Flurry Racing Stable, Shedaresthedevil is trained by Brad Cox and was ridden to victory by Florent Geroux.
Breaking from the outside post, Shedaresthedevil darted to the front immediately and set fractions of :23.93 for the opening quarter mile, :47.79 for the half and 1:11.54 for six furlongs. Envoutante was her closest pursuer with Letruska – who typically runs on the front end – three wide while third into the first turn and in the run down the backstretch.
As the field rounded into the stretch, Joel Rosario allowed Letruska to drift out even further while trying to run down the favorite. Shedaresthedevil maintained a clear advantage at the mile marker — clocked in 1:36.25 – but was all out to hold off a surge from Letruska in deep stretch.
“We caught a flyer out of the gate,” Geroux said. “I was expecting Letruska to lead all the way. I don’t know if she didn’t break fast enough or stumbled, but we inherited the lead and I just took it from there. My filly is extremely talented. You know you want to slow her down, just keep her in a nice rhythm. Turning for home, she gave me everything she had. She maybe got a little bit tired down the lane, but it was good for her first race off the break. I don’t think she was 100% cranked up for this. We have hopes for a big year with her.”
The win was the sixth from 12 starts for Shedaresthedevil, who won the G3 Honeybee at Oaklawn in 2020, along with the G3 Indiana Oaks prior to winning the Kentucky Oaks. She was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm.
“Whenever I run here, I’m nervous,” Staton Flurry of Flurry Racing said. “I expected the three (Letruska) to break good, but she didn’t. We just went on with it. She really dug in. Florent rode a great race. I’m glad to have her back. It’s going to be a fun year.”
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