Inglorious, who learned much about being a racehorse at Ciaran and Amy Dunne's Wavertree Stables in Florida, will carry the flag for Canadian racing when she leaves the gate in Saturday’s Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.
The Josie Carroll trained filly has been ahead of the curve from the get-go.
“Ciaran breaks all our horses down there. He buys most of them for me too, and he thought she was one of the better fillies on the farm. So, we thought we had something,” says Vern Dubinsky, who runs Donver stables with his wife Donna (hence Donver Stables.).
Dunne may have an eye for a good horse, but when Inglorious goes to post on Saturday the horseman will have to focus his keen vision elsewhere.
“Unfortunately, I’m banned,” laughs Dunne. “The first race she ran as a two year old, my daughter had a swim meet and I never actually seen her run. Then I watched her run twice at Fair Grounds when she didn’t win. When she came back to Canada and won her first race of the year, I was away somewhere and didn’t see the race. So, Vern has a pact that since I’ve watched her twice and she got beat, that I can’t watch her run anymore!”
The native of Kildare, Ireland has had plenty of say, however, in both the selection and the upbringing of the dual Canadian classic champion of the Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate. Dunne liked the filly from the moment he set eyes on her at the 2009 CTHS Canada-bred Yearling Sale.
“The first cut we do is on the physical and she was a solid well-balanced filly who moved really well. She had the kind of hips that we like to see. She had a big, swinging hip on her,” recalls Dunne.
Dunne had previously purchased Careless Jewel on behalf of Donver Stable, the speedy filly who won the 2009 edition of the Alabama, and he knew he was onto something good when Inglorious stepped into the ring.
“It was almost an added bonus that she was by Hennessy. At the time we bought her, Vern and Donna were racing Careless Jewel who was out of a Hennessy mare and so they were a little partial to Hennessy fillies at the time, so it was just one of those things that came together,” says Dunne.
While Careless Jewel was purchased for a comparatively affordable price of $45,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Inglorious went for double that amount.
“She was getting to the point where you have to think about bidding, instead of just going ahead and bidding,” says Dunne. “We hesitated before we made the last bid and it was Donna who said, ‘go again’.”
Fortunately for the Dubinsky family, their bid was the final one and it was up to Dunne to begin putting Inglorious through her paces.
“She shipped to Florida the next day and we broke her here. It’s easy to say now, but she was always somewhat of a standout. From day one she was a beautiful moving filly, but she was also a great minded filly,” says Dunne, and tellingly, he adds, “She outworked everything she was ever with.”
Despite her prowess, the precocious filly would not make her first start until October of her two-year-old season.
“She was a little later here even that we would have anticipated only because she started acting a little special,” states Dunne. “We thought she might have a bigger future than running four and a half furlongs, so we backed her up and waited until later in the year, which is why Josie didn’t get her until later.”
Inglorious would win at first asking, recovering from a slow start to capture the Fanfreluche Stakes, a six-furlong sprint, in a driving finish. She would return to the track in early December to prove her talents at two-turns by romping the mile and a sixteenth Ontario Lassie by five and three-quarter lengths.
“It’s kind of remarkable. I guess the Smart Strike is coming through on pedigree, but a lot of it is her mind too,” offers Dunne. “The thing about it is that she’s so easy on herself. She doesn’t get excited and wound up. She’ll sit back and conserve her energy until she needs to use it.”
The differences between Inglorious and Careless Jewel are night and day.
“When ‘Jewel’ was here, she would flash brilliance at you. We spent every minute she was here trying to slow her down,” laughs Dunne. “She was just remarkably fast and wanted to do everything a million miles an hour. Inglorious hides her light under a bushel, whereas ‘Jewel’ would let you know how fast she was on a day-to-day basis.”
The laidback Inglorious was content to work within herself during her early training sessions, not that Dunne didn’t try and push the filly to test her limits.
“We work all our horses in company and she’d always outwork whoever she was with,” says Dunne. “They’d finish together, but she’d do it so much easier. Every week she was here, we would change the company trying to test her more and never actually got to the point where we got to the bottom of her.”
When Dunne looks at Inglorious now, he sees almost the same horse he knew on the training track.
“She’s just a bigger version,” remarks Dunne. “She left here in July of her two-year-old year. I saw her in September when I went up for the yearling sale and I didn’t see her again until this spring in Keeneland. I watched her train one morning at Keeneland and I was amazed at how relaxed and quiet and happy she was. I think her greatest virtue is her mind.”
Following an undefeated two-year-old campaign, Inglorious would make her three-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds on February 19. The Hennessy-Noble Strike miss did not disappoint, closing to finish second to the more seasoned Kathmanblu.
She would return to the track on March 26 in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and finished fourth in a race won by Daisy Devine by a length and a half over St John’s River.
Dunne has a theory about the filly’s efforts at the Fair Grounds that might put Inglorious a step closer to St. John’s River, a rival who will also compete in Saturday’s Alabama Stakes.
“Inglorious was making her first start of the year and Josie (Carroll) was bringing her in there (the Rachel Alexandra) off of a work. I think she bounced a little bit off of that race into the Oaks,” starts Dunne. “If you look at the Fair Grounds Oaks, Inglorious was right on her (St. John’s River) tail and I don’t think Inglorious, by any stretch of the imagination, ran her best race that day.”
However, off of a freshening from her three-for-three performance in Canada winning the La Lorgnette, Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate, Dunne believes Inglorious is ready for another peak performance.
“She had three quick races with the prep, the Oaks and the Plate and then Josie was able to back off her and freshen her up and train exactly as she wanted to. She’s put a couple really strong breezes into her and everything is timed perfectly,” says Dunne.
Allowing Inglorious a little time to cool off following her Canadian classic double was paramount for her owner.
“We just wanted to keep her fresh and she has eight weeks between races now. We want to keep her fresh and hopefully have a four-year-old to race next year,” states Dubinsky. “If you run too much, and too hard, you end up burning them out and we’d love to campaign her next year. It speaks to reason that we should have a better shot at that.”
Dubinsky is also excited to have an opportunity to try his filly, once more, against open competition.
“The only way we’ll know how good she is, is if we try them,” says Dubinsky. “She’s in great shape and Josie has done such a wonderful job with her. It’s worth a shot and it’s one of the biggest three-year-old filly races you can win in North America.”
In addition to freshness, Inglorious also has the benefit of being the only filly in
the field to have tried the ten furlong distance of the Alabama - - an effort Inglorious proved more than capable of when defeating the boys to win the Queen’s Plate.
“I think we’ve proven we can go the mile and a quarter. I just hope we can go faster than they can,” says Dubinsky. “It may not be a big field but it’s a very good field. It will be a very good race and hopefully we’re competitive with them. I think we can make Canada proud if we could pull it off.”
With Woodbine’s leading rider, Luis Contreras, travelling to Saratoga to once again partner Inglorious, Dubinsky is brimming with confidence. The owner expects to see a familiar effort on Saturday.
“I think if we could be mid-pack just like we were in the Plate, there’s definitely going to be speed to run at,” starts Dubinsky. “Hopefully the track plays fair and it’s not speed favouring too much and we have a shot to run them down. It seems to have been playing that way lately a little bit. They’re coming home fairly slow at the racetrack there. We’ll leave it in Luis’ hands and I’m sure he’ll make the right decisions.”
The affable owner is confident that he will have a good time in Saratoga on Saturday and knows where he’ll be heading following the race.
“Probably Siro’s,” laughs Dubinsky. “Win or lose, I’m sure we’ll have something going.”
There will be no such festivities for the man who helped find and break Inglorious.
“I’ll bury my head in the sand sometime around six o clock on Saturday,” says Dunne with a grimace.
And all of Canada will hope that Dunne likes what he sees when he watches the replay of the Alabama.
The Field for Saturday's Grade 1 Alabama (Race 10, 5:45PM EST)
PP / Horse / Jockey / Wgt / Trainer / Odds
1 / Royal Delta(KY) / J Lezcano / 121 / W I Mott / 6-1
2 / Pinch Pie (KY) / J R Velazquez / 121 / A W Dutrow / 15-1
3 / Plum Pretty (PA) / M Garcia / 121 / B Baffert / 2-1
4 / It's Tricky (KY)/ E Castro / 121 / K P McLaughlin / 9-5
5 / St. John's River (KY)/ R Albarado / 121 / A Leggio, Jr. / 5-1
6 / Inglorious (ON) / L Contreras / 121 / J Carroll / 6-1