By: Bob Ehalt
Photo: Skip Dickstein/ Tim Lanahan
Respect has been elusive during the past month or so for Tracy Farmer's 2-year-old filly Perfect Alibi.
After she broke her maiden by 9 1/2 lengths in her May 16 career debut at Churchill Downs, the Sky Mesa filly became the darling of the betting public and was sent off as a 6-5 favorite in the June 6 Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park.
But when she finished second to the "Gilligan's Island"-themed Maryanorginger, the bandwagon became noticeably less populated.
In her next start, she was dismissed at 6-1 odds in the Adirondack Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course and promptly notched a half-length victory over the Bill Mott-trained 3-5 choice Frank's Rockette in a race filled with rough trips.
When Perfect Alibi returned for trainer Mark Casse Sept. 1 in the $350,000 Spinaway Stakes (G1) for 2-year-old fillies at the Spa, again the public gravitated toward Frank Fletcher Racing Operations' Frank's Rockette based on her troubled trip earlier in the meet and sent her off as the favorite while Perfect Alibi was merely the 5-1 fourth choice.
And again, Perfect Alibi enjoyed the last laugh as she courageously battled along the rail to score by 1 1/4 lengths in the seven-furlong stakes on the penultimate day of the Saratoga meet.
"It's OK," Casse said about the lack of respect on the toteboard, "as long as she keeps on winning. She amazes because she's so laid-back. She doesn't get excited about anything, but when the gate opens, she's tough."
Perhaps in Perfect Alibi's next start, frustrated handicappers will once again get excited about her, though that test is likely to be a sometimes-problematic first trip around two turns. Casse and Farmer are leaning toward running her in Keeneland's $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at 1 1/16 miles Oct. 4.
"What has always lured me to the (Claiborne) Breeders' Futurity (G1) and the Alcibiades is the ability to get a two-turn race going into the Breeders' Cup. That's why we did what we did (in 2016) with (2-year-old champion) Classic Empire. You also know Mr. Farmer is from Kentucky," Casse said.
Down the road, the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) is also at a two-turn, 1 1/16-mile distance, and Casse believes that should not pose a problem for the tenacious filly. If anything, he thought she might find sprint distances challenging.
"Look at her pedigree and physique. It shouldn't matter," he said about two-turn races. "What's amazing to me is how well she ran sprinting. I told Mr. Farmer the first time, she'll probably come running late and take third. She then wins by about 10, so that shows you what I know."
In a field of seven that featured four fillies sired by the Spendthrift Farm stallion Into Mischief, it was Mundaye Call who set the early pace of :22.65 and :45.45, with Frank's Rockette, the 9-5 favorite, right behind in second. Perfect Alibi was fifth after the opening half-mile.
As Julien Leparoux and Frank's Rockette put away Mundaye Call at the top of the stretch, Irad Ortiz Jr. skimmed the rail with Perfect Alibi, and the two rivals from the Adirondack hooked up again in a lively two-horse battle to the wire.
"I wasn't sure if she was going to get through there, but I knew if she could get her head in front, she'd be fine. What a nice filly. She's just a fighter," Casse said. "It was a great ride by Irad. I don't think the rail was the greatest place to be today, but it didn't seem to matter. Sometimes the shortest way is better. I'll take it today."
Frank's Rockette led by a half-length at the eighth pole, but the final furlong belonged to Perfect Alibi as she got to the front nearing the sixteenth pole and drew away, covering the seven furlongs in 1:23.44. Perfect Alibi paid $12.40 to win.
"She has a lot of heart," Ortiz said. "She likes to fight, and she has a strong kick. I think she can go better going longer, but we'll enjoy this right now and see what happens next."
The victory was the third in four starts for Perfect Alibi, who was purchased last year for $220,000 from the Denali Stud consignment at The Saratoga Sale, Fasig-Tipton's select yearling sale. Perfect Alibi was bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Stud out of the Maria's Mon mare No Use Denying. The win pushed her earnings to a respectful $380,988.
"She doesn't show you the things in the morning that other good fillies do, but she shows it to you in the afternoon," Casse said.
Frank's Rockette was a clear second, five lengths ahead of Klaravich Stables' Figure of Speech. Both Frank's Rockette and Figure of Speech, as well as sixth-place Risky Mischief and seventh-place Mundaye Call, are daughters of Into Mischief.