Co-owner Mike Gatsas and trainer John Terranova have participated in a handful of Breeders’ Cup events together and both are hopeful that this will be their year with New York-bred filly You’re My Girl in Friday’s Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.
Bred in the Empire State by James G. Doyle, You’re My Girl, who drew post 2 at morning line odds of 10-1, will seek to become the fourth New York-bred to earn a Breeders’ Cup victory, joining London Bridge [2013 Marathon], Dayatthespa [2014 Filly and Mare Turf] and Bar of Gold [2017 Filly and Mare Sprint]. The Overanalyze bay enters the Juvenile Fillies, her first start around two turns, as one of the least seasoned in the full field of 14, but was highly impressive in her two lifetime starts. She is owned by Gatsas Stables in partnership with R. A. Hill Stable and Hidden Brook Farm.
You’re My Girl sparkled on debut, besting fellow state-breds by 14 1/2 lengths in frontrunning fashion going six furlongs on September 2 at Saratoga Race Course as the lukewarm favorite. The emphatic score prompted her connections to try Grade 1 company in the one-mile Frizette at Belmont at the Big A, where she used pacesetting tactics over the sloppy and sealed track. She displayed grit along the rail when confronted by Chocolate Gelato in upper stretch, finishing second only one length in arrears of her returning rival.
Terranova said You’re My Girl has acclimated well to her surroundings at Keeneland, having already logged two breezes over the Lexington oval, one of which was a six-furlong move in 1:13.60 on October 22 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who will pilot the filly in the Breeders’ Cup.
“She had her big work last week and she looked great. Everything has been great so let’s hope it continues,” Terranova said. “She just got beat a short length in a Grade 1 in her second start on a demanding and weird type of racetrack with all that water. She galloped out right on past everyone and she crushed the field by 14 lengths [on debut]. Her numbers are quick, and she’s trained amazing. The horses do the talking at the end of the day.”
A $130,000 purchase at the OBS June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale, You’re My Girl is out of the Indian Charlie mare Peace Queen, a half-sister to multiple graded-stakes winner Tizaqueena.
Gatsas said the well-bred You’re My Girl had touted her talent in the mornings prior to her scintillating debut.
“When you win by 14 1/2 lengths at Saratoga, it gives you a fantastic feeling. Watching her work every day up there, I knew that she could put on a show if she brought her ‘A’ game, and she did,” Gatsas said. “In the Frizette, she just wouldn’t give it up. She was down inside there and the water that day was pretty bad on the inside, but she held her own and ran a hard-fought race. Chocolate Gelato was a tough horse to beat that day, and that’s one of the ones we have to beat again.”
The relationship between Terranova and Gatsas is one that has been kept afloat for over 20 years. Gatsas entered the ownership game in 1998 alongside his brother, Ted, when they purchased five 2-year-olds at that year’s OBS March Sale. Two of those horses would go on to provide Gatsas with his first Breeders’ Cup experience when multiple Grade 1-placed Gander, a New York champion for four straight years, finished ninth in the Classic in 2000 and 2001. Shadow Caster, also selected from that sale, finished off-the-board in the 2000 Sprint.
Gatsas initially stabled his horses with the late New England-based horseman Charlie Assimakopoulos, but transferred his stock to Terranova in the summer of 2000 just months before his first Breeders’ Cup run.
Like You’re My Girl, Gatsas also had to supplement Gander to the Breeders’ Cup following a runner-up effort at Grade 1 level in New York when the popular gray gelding was second to Albert the Great, a runaway winner of the 2000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
“After that race, my brother and I talked about it. He said, ‘We may never be able to go back there. Let’s put the money up, he deserves a shot,’” Gatsas recalled. “He hit himself coming out of the gate, but he ran well enough. He matched up with them well enough but he couldn’t keep up.”
You’re My Girl will be Gatsas and Terranova’s first collaborative Breeders’ Cup starter since Negligee, owned by Gatsas’ Sovereign Stable moniker, finished fifth in the 2009 Juvenile Fillies.
Gatsas expressed a sense of pride in his longstanding relationship with Terranova as well as his wife and assistant Tonja.
“When I met John, he only had four horses,” Gatsas recalled. “And now, we’ve been together for a long, long time. It’s a pleasure to work with him and his wife, Tonja, it really is. Our family and his family are very close. It’s been a lot of fun over the years. We’ve had some good horses.”
Many of Gatsas’ horses, including You’re My Girl, are owned in partnership with Randy Hill of R.A. Hill Stable. Gatsas and Hill first became acquainted at Saratoga, where the two owners had boxes in the grandstand close to one another. After multiple conversations of, “Who do you like?”, Gatsas and Hill decide to take their newfound friendship to the next level.
The relationship has proven to be a beneficial one for both Gatsas and Hill, who together campaigned Vekoma, who took both of them to their first Kentucky Derby in 2019, where he finished 12th for trainer George Weaver. Later that year, Gatsas and Hill’s Our Country finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
“One day, we asked each other, ‘Why don’t we buy a horse together?’ and so we went and bought some horses and it’s been a fantastic relationship,” Gatsas explained. “We’ve had so much luck and now it’s a friendship. We go out all the time and when we’re in Florida, we go out together. We’ve been to the Derby together, the Breeders’ Cup together, and so this time will be a lot of fun.”
Vekoma went on to win two Grade 1 races in 2020 and was tabbed the 3-1 morning line favorite for the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland, but was scratched after spiking a fever.
“Last time we tried going to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup, it didn’t work out that great,” Gatsas said. “We’re hoping this time that we get it done. It’s exciting leading up to it. They do just a wonderful job for everybody, and they should be commended on how they put on such a big event.”
In campaigning You’re My Girl, Gatsas and Hill have joined forces with new partners in Hidden Brook Farm.
“They have been nothing but gentlemen all the way through and I think that’s important. It keeps the partnership in good shape and it bleeds into your luck during the day at the races,” Gatsas said. “[Hidden Brook partners] Dan Hall and Mark [Roberts], I’ve known them for a long time. I did business with them a few years ago and they’re quality guys. They’re horsemen through and through and they know the business. But the most important thing to me is that they’re quality guys. If I can get it done with them, that would be even more satisfactory.”
Terranova said both the Frizette and Breeders’ Cup were in discussion immediately following her maiden victory.
“Even going into that first race, we knew how good a filly we had. It takes a really good one to do what she did at Saratoga first out,” Terranova said. “Distance is always a question, but she’s got two good races into her now. She’s worked very well, she’s very fit and very happy down there. She’s got speed so she seems to get away from the gate well, hopefully that continues. We know we won’t be behind too many early in the race.”
Gatsas sung praises on behalf of the New York-bred program. In addition to Gander, Gatsas has owned 2020 New York Champion Sprinter Funny Guy and bred 2007 New York Older Female Oprah Winney.
“We’ve had a whole bunch of different New York-breds and they have been extremely kind to us,” Gatsas said. “Let’s face the facts, you’re running against a smaller pool of horses, and not to say that they aren’t great, because we’ve seen what can happen with a good New York-bred that can go win big races like the Derby. There’s no question that the New York program helps the owners tremendously and probably has kept me in business, because you need a lot of luck and a lot of good people around you in order to stay in business as long as I have.”
Because Gatsas is one of Terranova’s most loyal and longstanding clients, Terranova said he feels blessed to have them in his corner.
“The owners are happy to have her and we’re grateful for them. That’s what everyone is in it for. It’s nice that we have a chance with a really solid filly,” Terranova said. “They’ve always had some nice horses and every now and then we get a top one, but we don’t go through massive numbers of horses all the time and pull from a pool of 80 or 90 2-year-olds. We’ll get 10 or 12 every year. We make the most of it and every now and then, we get fortunate enough to come up with a real good one that can hang with the top ones. This one certainly shows she belongs. We’re really grateful to have her and for Mike, Randy and the Hidden Brook boys.”
After coming up short at the Breeders’ Cup on a number of occasions, Gatsas said he is that much hungrier for the prize.
“You’re so high when you go into it and you always tell yourself, ‘Next time you go, you just got to get it done.’ So, it would be great for me to get it done with this filly down there,” Gatsas said. “She’s a lovely filly and we’re just really excited about going to Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup.”