October 30, 2021: Letruska (inside), entered in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff and trained by Fausto Gutierrez, picks up some unexpected company in her final workout.
Much has been made of morning-line favorite Letruska’s final workout before the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, in which the 5-year-old daughter of Super Saver picked up some unplanned company.
Though she usually breezes on her own, a timing snaffu saw Letruska hook up with the lightly-raced Richard Baltas-trained 2-year-old Brandon’smylawyer in her Oct. 30 workout at Del Mar. Workmates can cause horses to work faster than their connections might otherwise want, but instead that younger filly went on by her rival, out-finishing Letruska down the stretch.
Letruska’s response to the challenger leaves handicappers to puzzle out the significance just a week ahead of her biggest test of the season.
“It wasn’t really what you want to see,” offered Letruska’s trainer, 54-year-old Breeders’ Cup first-timer Fausto Gutierrez. “When you wake up in the morning, this isn’t something you think might happen. But she came back in good form, breathing normally. That’s what is most important.
“You know, she’s traveled 17 times this year. She knows when the race is getting close, and what she needs to do.”
Exercise rider Roger Horgan agreed that while the workmate was unplanned, the mare handled it with her usual aplomb.
“I was not planning on company; it was not ideal,” Horgan said. “She did relax. I was a bit concerned, but she switched off and let her do it on her own. I was very proud of her the way she relaxed.”
Letruska was officially credited with a time of 1:01.20 for five furlongs, while Brandon’smylawyer was clocked over four furlongs in :47.20.
Letruska puts in her final work moments ago in preparation for the Longines @BreedersCup Distaff @DelMarRacing.
Coming up next on @TVG, we’ll hear thoughts from Trainer Fausto Gutierrez! Watch Breakfast at the Breeders’ Cup: https://t.co/JnDfgd2kLJ pic.twitter.com/c26ihwGBeH
— TVG (@TVG) October 30, 2021
Another somewhat unusual training activity saw Gutierrez send Letruska to the track with just a pony – no rider on her back – on Monday morning. For the 10-time leading trainer in Mexico, ponying his horses on their own every so often is a normal part of the routine.
“When the horse doesn’t feel the jockey, they can relax their body more,” the trainer explained, adding that the mare resumed galloping under a rider on Tuesday morning.
It’s tough to argue with the results: Letruska has put together an impressive campaign this season, winning six of her seven starts, including the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, G1 Ogden Phipps, and G1 Personal Ensign.
“The only point now is that she arrives concentrated and happy,” Gutierrez concluded. “We don’t have anything else to do.”
Should Letruska prevail in the Distaff, a race against males could be on her calendar. Gutierrez plans to race the mare again in 2022, and the Pegasus World Cup in January is on the radar.
No matter what happens on Saturday, Gutierrez is enjoying the journey. He’s come a long way from his origins in Mexico, where he got into horse racing as a turfwriter and built up his training operation to the leading one in the country. Letruska’s career also began in Mexico: Gutierrez conditioned her to a 3-year-old championship there in 2019. The filly won the first six starts of her career, and then traveled to Gulfstream Park to win the 2019 Copa Invitacional del Caribe.
That success helped encourage Gutierrez to make the move to training in the United States; he now keeps a string year-round in South Florida.
“This is a real dream, because nobody can think this could happen,” he said. “When I had this horse in Mexico City I understood she’s a special horse, a horse who could run fast. But to be here, it’s like another planet.
“I try to do the best work. I don’t have a lot of horses with this quality. I just have one. Sometimes I feel like Rambo – I have to go with all the other ones, horses who have seven or eight horses [like this.]”
“This is a horse to change the life of any person. She’s a superstar and she proves it every second, every race.” – Fausto Gutierrez on Letruska 💗 #BC21 pic.twitter.com/eNRIBD50zt
— Breeders’ Cup (@BreedersCup) October 30, 2021
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