LEA’s multiple stakes winning Poppy Flower added a graded stakes victory to her resume with a bang in Friday’s finale at Belmont Park when running to a late-closing victory in the Intercontinental Stakes (G3).
Breaking from the inside gate in the six-furlong turf race, Poppy Flower raced just behind the leaders on the rail as the field raced in a tight pack down the backstretch. The filly was steadied as they entered the turn and dropped back a few more lengths before Jose Ortiz started piloting her to the outside.
It took a while for Poppy Flower to get to an outside path but once she had clear room, she went after the leader. It wasn’t until the wire that she was in the lead, beating Grade 2 winner Bubble Rock by a nose.
“She tried hard and got a great trip,” trainer Bill Mott said. “He tipped her out in time, and she got there. I mean, she was rolling. She was going to be a half-length in front a couple of jumps past the wire but I wasn’t sure she got there in time. That’s a close finish. I wasn’t sure she got there. She’s one of those fillies that shows up every time, but today was an exceptionally good race.”
It was the fourth victory for the Mott trainee, who has finished in the top three 11 times in 14 starts for $505,030 in earnings. Racing for Arnmore Thoroughbreds, she has been a consistent runner in stakes races with top three finishes in seven of her nine stakes starts.
The homebred is the first foal out of the multiple stakes placed Nisharora. That mare is one of four winners from six to race out of Art Fair, whose winners also include 11-time victory Arts and Daggers. Poppy Flower’s third dam is the Group 1 winner Lypharita.
LEA is the sire of two stakes winners this year, sixth best of all fifth crop sires with less runners than all but one horse in front of him.