Arindel Farm’s Vitameta is gearing toward the $75,000 Leave Me Alone Stakes on Summit Preview Day on June 8 at Calder Casino & Race Course, and will be coming back from a respite by her own design that has been a key to her racing success.
“She likes to go home and just have a little break. Sometimes you train her a little, too. She just likes the farm,” trainer David Fawkes said.
Her performances in the races have shown that a little vacation time can go a long way towards better results in a career.
In just six career starts, Vitameta has been to the winner’s circle three times, with a photo finish determining her only second-place finish.
She broke her maiden impressively first time out, cruising home by seven lengths in a 5-furlong maiden special weight race at Calder. In that race, she beat Dreaming of Sophia, who later captured the Cassidy Stakes at Calder.
Fawkes then shipped Vitameta to Monmouth Park to run her in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, but Fawkes passed because of issues with mucus that the filly was dealing with. After working up north, Fawkes ran the filly in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga, where Vitameta picked up her first loss after acting up in the gate, not breaking straight, and then running up near the leader before fading away.
“She just wasn’t herself there,” Fawkes said. “She definitely showed it in the race.”
Vitameta was no worse for the wear, returning to Calder in top form where she won a 6-furlong allowance by five lengths approximately 2 1/2-months after that first loss.
“She’s a very determined little horse,” Fawkes said.
After another little break, Vitameta returned to stakes action, finishing second in the Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in a photo finish in which Vitameta missed the victory by just a half-length after chasing the pacesetter during the race and advancing strongly all the way to the wire, holding off the third place finisher who was challenging as well.
She earned her first stakes victory in the Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa, finishing ahead by a neck after breaking first out of the gate, racing close to the pacesetter and overtaking competition to gain the victory.
Vitameta finished fourth in the Primal Force Stakes at Gulfstream Park at the beginning of March, running at the front in her usual style before dropping back halfway through the race.
Then it was time for another break.
"We just sent her home, kicked her out; she does really well going out and getting turned out for like a month, and when she starts running around the paddock and acting a fool then we bring her back in,” Fawkes said.
Fawkes said that the time off makes Vitameta happy and also sharpened her.
Vitameta has worked four times this month since returning to Calder. She worked four furlongs the first three weeks with times of :48.80, :50.20, and :48.60. This past Saturday, her workout distance was increased to five furlongs, and she clocked in at 1:01.80.
“I thought her work was good,” Fawkes said. “She went off easy, she picked it up in the middle, and she had a good enough finish. I thought she worked good enough.”
Jockey Jose Luis Cruz, who has been aboard Vitameta for all of her workouts, is slated to have the mount aboard Vitameta for the sixth time. He guided the filly to all of her victories since day one, and also gallops her every day. Fawkes said that Cruz fits Vitameta well.
“I think he rides her really well,” Fawkes said. “She likes to be a little aggressive, and he’s kind of an aggressive-type rider. She likes to be kept busy.”
Fawkes may have four runners in the Summit Preview. In addition to Vitameta, he also nominated
Cappachino Gal to the Leave Me Alone. Bahamian Squall is nominated to the Ponche Handicap, and Value Trap is nominated to the Unbridled Stakes.
Cappachino Gal broke her maiden in wire-to-wire fashion last weekend in a 5-furlong maiden special weight race on turf at Calder, finishing four lengths ahead as the favorite.
“It was a pretty impressive win,” Fawkes said. “I thought she did that pretty comfortably. Maybe that will build her confidence up enough that she can run with these kind.
Stakes winner Bahamian Squall is in search of his first win as a 4-year old after finishing second in the Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes and third in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship Series Stakes, both at Gulfstream Park.
"We had some bad luck over there. I didn’t care the way (the rider) rode her one time, and then one time he got in a bunch of traffic. He’s had some hard luck racing, so I think if he gets a clean trip he’ll be awfully tough.”
Value Trap was impressive in his 2-year-old debut, cruising home by six lengths in a 6-furlong maiden special weight race. He did not miss a beat returning to Calder at 3, earning his first allowance victory in wire-to-wire fashion at 6 furlongs.
“I thought his last race was an improvement in his first race off the four month layoff. I thought he ran a really good race,” Fawkes said.
His performances led to Fawkes considering the Big Drama Stakes for Value Trap, but the timing of the race led Fawkes to run him in another 6-furlong allowance race at Calder as a prep for the Unbridled.
Value Trap looked set for this third straight win in that allowance, setting the pace and leading yet again. However, he received his first loss after fading down the stretch and finishing last.
“He came out of his race in good order,” Fawkes said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Both Cappachino Gal and Value Trap would be making their first career stakes appearances.