Spring Venture is on her way to the Breeders' Cup with an impressive score in Saturday’s $262,900 Natalma S. (G2) at Woodbine [Watch Race]. The 2-year-old filly bested stablemate Spring in the Air by 1 3/4-lengths, keying a 1-2 finish for the fillies sired by Spring at Last. The WinStar stallion leads the freshman sire list with $524,500 in progeny earnings. Spring at Last is the only first-crop sire with more than one stakes winner, and his five stakes horses leads that category as well.
Spring Venture settled well off the early pace of Shenandoah Lady, as Patrick Husbands had Spring Venture in seventh position at the half-mile mark, which went in 47.40. As the field turned into the stretch, Coconut Shrimp took on the leader while Spring Venture edged behind the front-running duo and appeared to lack running room, until Husbands angled his filly to the outside and powered home a winner. Spring Venture traveled the mile on the yielding turf in 1:37.27.
“By the time we leave there, my filly wanted to lead," said Husbands. "I was taking a good hold of her. She showed me that she wasn’t scared. So I finally got her back off (the speed) and she relaxed good.”
For Spring Venture, this was her first stakes victory in her first added-money attempt. She is 2-for-2 overall, with a maiden win at Woodbine Aug. 18. She has earned $188,217. The winner and the runner-up are both trained by Mark Casse.
“I was so excited," said assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan. "I didn’t see the other filly (Spring in the Air) coming. I was just focusing on her (Spring Venture). That’s the really best case scenario, when you run two horses in a stake and they’re first and second.”
As a ‘Win and You’re In’ event, Spring Venture automatically earns a position in the starting gate for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.
Bred in Kentucky by Stoneway Farm LLC and Gary Barber, Spring Venture is now owned solely by Stoneway. She is out of the stakes-placed mare Zahwah, who has also produced the multiple stakes-placed filly Swift Artist.
Spring Venture was offered at this June's OBS Horses of Racing Age sale, where she brought a winning bid of $320,000 from Justin Casse, agent. The figure was the second-highest price of the sale.