Virginia Beach a “shore” thing in first out score
Virginia Beach won at first asking. Photo by The Racing Biz.
There’s something to be said for strength in numbers. Trainer Mike Trombetta has sent out three times as many first-time starters at Laurel Park as any other trainer thus far in 2020, and he’s won three races – also three times as much as any other trainer.
In Friday’s second race at Laurel Park, a maiden special weight for three-year-old fillies, Trombetta doubled up, sending out a pair of first-time starters whom the bettors liked enough to make the post time favorite and second choice.
But while post time favorite Mona Luna was away slowly and never much involved, Virginia Beach, the “other” Trombetta runner, stalked the pace up close, came wide for the drive, and outfought her rivals to prevail by a half-length in 1:12.74 for six furlongs over a fast main track.
“That filly is pretty handy,” Trombetta’s assistant Tana Verge said of Virginia Beach. “I kind of figured she would be laying close and maybe go on with it. She did good.”
Virginia Beach, a Virginia-bred daughter of Twirling Candy, was a $20,000 auction purchase as a two-year-old in training for Country Life Farm.
Both fillies had a lengthy string of workouts under them prior to Friday’s contest. But Verge said that the Trombetta team had kept the two fillies apart prior to the race, in part because Mona Luna is much larger than her stablemate and in part because they may end up being pretty different runners.
Virginia Beach has plenty of turf in her background and could ultimately head in that direction, while the regally bred Mona Luna most likely will do her best work at longer distances on the main track. She’s by Uncle Mo out of the graded stakes-winning Malibu Moon mare Luna Time, whose top win came in the Delaware Park’s Grade 3, nine-furlong Obeah Stakes in 2015.
Though the team had hoped to keep them apart at the races, as well, Verge said each had been entered multiple times in races that did not go. In the end, they had to face each other.
While Mona Luna, with jockey Julian Pimentel up, was trying to get her footing in her first start, Virginia Beach, under jockey Victor Carrasco, who’d also been working her in the mornings, faced challenges from the inside and the outside in the lane and held them off resolutely.
“She was game… She kept coming,” Verge said. “[Carrasco] got after her a little bit with the left hand, and she kind of went on about it.”
Virginia Beach paid $8.20 to win and led a trio of first-timers – also including Deco Strong (8-1) and Determined Heart (9-2) – who filled out the triple, which paid $93.75 on a 50-cent ticket.
It was perhaps a somewhat disappointing debut for the Maryland-bred Mona Luna; her sire Uncle Mo stands for $125,000 and she went off as the 9-5 post time favorite. But Verge figures that time – and distance – figure to be allies of a runner who’s a homebred for Dorsey Brown and Richard Palmer.
“She didn’t break real sharp,” Verge pointed out. “She’s got to go long. She’s so big, it took her a while to get her feet under her.”
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