Inimitable Romanee strode past her stall headed straight for the next opening. The tack room and office in Graham Motion’s barn near the top of the stretch wasn’t her ultimate destination though, nothing of much importance or interest to horses in there. Rather what was in the hands of Vicki King was what she sought.
Not 10 seconds earlier Motion was discussing the 5-year-old mare’s chances in today’s $150,000 Yaddo Stakes and more specifically how the daughter of Maria’s Mon is a favorite around the barn when she headed straight for King and assistant Alice Clapham just inside the doorway.
“She was like, ‘You don’t open that up right in front of me and don’t give it to me,’ ” Clapham said as Inimitable Romanee chomped down on the peppermint that King, her regular exercise rider, unwrapped.
“She’s the kindest mare,” Motion said. “Just a pleasure to have around.”
Whether she’s too kind depends on your perspective. Her opponents might not mind her willingness to settle for second or third-seven times in her last eight starts since her most recent victory more than a year ago-yet at the same time probably marveling at her remarkable consistency.
Inimitable Romanee, a homebred racing for Gallaghers Stud out of the tough and equally consistent graded stakes-winning Kissin Kris mare Cellars Shiraz, was second in her last two starts in similar spots. The first was a neck loss to fellow Yaddo entrant Shakeira in the June 1 Mount Vernon at Belmont and then a solid 1 1/4-length defeat to the uber-consistent state-bred mare Hessonite in the On The Bus here the first day of the meet.
“She’s always right there,” Motion said as he took a short break between sets Thursday. “It’s a tough race. Tough New York-breds. She’s always competitive and always runs her race. I think she just needs to get a little lucky. I’d like to be able to win one of those.”
Winning the 1 1/16-mile Yaddo will be a tall order for Inimitable Romanee, even though she’ll only face five others in the day’s feature carded as the third to make way for much more forgettable races with larger fields that make up part of exotic multi-race wagers. She’s 10-1 on the morning line with Edgar Prado getting the return call.
Inimitable Romanee will not only have to beat her old rival Shakeira-who owns three wins over her since April 2012-but Chad Brown’s other entrant in 2-5 favorite Dayatthespa. Winner of the Riskaverse here last summer prior to a 2-length score in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, Dayatthespa was originally entered in the Grade 1 Diana the second weekend of the meet.
Brown wasn’t completely satisfied that the 4-year-old City Zip filly was completely recovered from a strong second behind eventual Diana winner Laughing in the Grade 3 Eatontown at Monmouth in late June so opted to wait for the Yaddo.
That decision was completely fine with Pete Bradley, who owns Dayatthespa with Jerry Frankel, Ronald Frankel and Steve Laymon. Bradley, a bloodstock agent who owns the Kentucky-based Bradley Thoroughbreds, was out Thursday morning to catch some training and is gearing up for a busy weekend and beyond.
“That last race was really tough on her, but time’s done her good and this will be a good starting point for the second half of the year,” Bradley said. “She just 100 percent so this will be good. It’s not the only Grade 1 they write this year.
“We’ve got a big weekend coming up. We’ve got Watsdachances in the Lake Placid on Sunday and a maiden running Sunday that might be some fun, a filly named Zloty. So we’ll see. Then I get to home and start looking at yearlings.”
Shakeira is the 3-1 second choice on the line with a somewhat hidden excuse on paper. The 5-year-old Freud mare was right in the mix in the On the Bus before she was soundly bumped multiple times on the way to a sixth-place finish. She won her previous two starts, including twice this season. Joel Rosario replaces Rajiv Maragh for owners Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables.
The field also includes Wholelottashakin, fifth in the On the Bus for Tom Bush, Sally’s Dream, winner of an optional claimer here Aug. 7 for Randi Persaud, and Love Stanza Chance, winner of an optional claimer July 13 at Belmont for Tom Albertrani.