August 12, 2010

Gorella? She Ran More Like a Gazelle

Before jumping into today’s column headfirst, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you. You see, today happens to be the one-year anniversary of Zipse at the Track. I started this blog twelve months ago, with the simple idea of sharing my love for thoroughbred horse racing with whomever might stop by to take a look. It truly has been a labor love for me and I feel blessed to have connected with so many of you through your reading of my words. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your loyal support, and I vow to continue writing for as long as you continue to read. But enough about me, let’s get to today’s column about a filly who rocketed by me one afternoon on the Arlington Park turf course…

The setting was the 2006 Beverly D. Stakes, and I was more excited to see the girls that day then the males a little later in the Arlington Million. And why not? It was a wonderful match-up of distaff turfers. Film Maker was there, a hickory turf mare for Graham Motion, and Todd Pletcher had the distance loving star Honey Ryder ready to go. Wend, Sharp Lisa and Live Life were talented front runners, while Rich in Spirit was a solid Midwesterner. None of them were favored though, that distinction clearly fell to a French lightning bolt, named Gorella. She had caught American’s attention with a fantastic finish to be 3rd by ¾ of a length in the previous Fall’s BC Mile, in which, if not for a horrid trip, she was the likely winner.

Sent off as the 6-5 choice by the savvy Arlington turf fans, Gorella would not disappoint. On paper, her victory reads like this; Gorella won the 2006 Beverly D. by 1 ¾ lengths. The final time was 1:53 3/5, one of the fastest 1 3/16 miles ever run at the Suburban Chicago track. But this was the type of performance that you do not want to be satisfied by reading the chart.

At the back of the pack for the first mile of the race, Gorella and her young French rider, Julien Leparoux, seemed to be in no hurry until the horses swung out of the final turn. Running widest of all, Gorella was suddenly asked to run. Sporting easy to notice fluorescent orange silks, the four-year-old filly seemed to take form of a fireball as she stormed down the green stretch. Last-to-first in a matter of seconds, to say the move was merely explosive is an insult. To this day, I have never seen another run quite like it at Arlington Park. Gorella had immense talent, and in the Beverly D., it was on full display for the world to see.



Top mares Film Maker and Honey Ryder were left to fight it out for 2nd with pacesetter Live Life. To further illustrate the quality of Gorella and the Beverly D. of 2006, those two would return next time to run 1-2 in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl.

Sadly, Gorella would only run two more times after the Beverly D. performance, winning the Grade 2 First Lady at Keeneland, and finishing in the middle of the pack against males in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs. The daughter of Grape Tree Road was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding turf female. She was denied the honor by the great globetrotting mare, Ouija Board. Gorella was retired the following Winter, when bone chips were discovered in her ankle. Owned by Martin Schwartz and trained by Patrick Biancone, Gorella was a winner of 7 of 17 starts and earned $1,456,209. The Beverly D. was the second of three consecutive graded stakes wins, and she also was a group 2 winner in France, where she finished in the money in her final two races abroad, both Group 1 affairs. Not afraid to challenge anyone, Gorella ran against the males in four of her final nine races. But, once again, it is not the stats that tell the story. Gorella was a unique talent, and when you got to see her with a clear path down the lane, it was a thing of beauty. As it was that afternoon at Arlington Park four years ago.

10 comments:

Glenn Craven said...

Hello! Happy anniversary! :-)

Gorella was a beast.

Ciarán said...

congrats on 12 months of ZATT!! it's great, well done.

Jennifer said...

Hi Brian. Congrats on your one-year anniversary. Great post. :)

LDP said...

I remember watching her. I was for the first time, really beginning to learn about racing and all it's facets. She was a thing of beauty as you put it.

ja.raymond said...

I was a bit preoccupied with life in 06, and I wasnt really paying attn to horseracing then, so I dont remember her. She had a great late kick (much like a certian other Big Mare I know & lovez ;).

Happy Anniversary, ZATT, you're a constant source of education & entertainment! May there be many more yrs of reading!

Silent Sunday said...

In my opinion the horse that really propelled Julien into the spotlight too, his career pretty much skyrocketed from there if memory serves. Loved watching her run and would have loved for her to win in 06 at Churchill.

Happy 1yr ZATT!!! Thanks for the great articles, trivia, and remembering series...and most importantly the friendship!!

Anonymous said...

One year anniversary? Congratulations! Take the afternoon off and relax at the track.
RG

RachelAlex said...

Happy Anniversary, Brian. You are one of my favorite blogs and I hope you continue for many more years.

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you all for the kind words, I appreciate them and your continued reading.

Brian Appleton said...

Congrats on your 1 year anniversary! I think you do a terrific job making this one of the most interesting, fun and informative blogs on thoroughbred horse racing on the web.
What a fantastic race, Gorella had a "Goldikova" kick in the stretch there! I'd never heard of her before.