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Closing Remarks Charges Home in Yellow Ribbon

When John Harris researched Aspen Gal  and found that she had won half of her 10 starts and was graded stakes-placed at Belmont Park, he felt the mare was worth $42,000 at the 2005 Keeneland November sale. She certainly was, as Aspen Gal is now the second dam of Closing Remarks , who with her victory in the Aug. 12 Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2T) at Del Mar sent her earnings over $700,000 for owner/breeder Harris Farms and trainer Carla Gaines.

Closing Remarks could have earned quite a bit more money with better racing luck. The 5-year-old mare comes from off the pace and a few times has found her road to victory blocked until it was too late. But jockey Umberto Rispoli found a perfect path for her to get the job done in the Yellow Ribbon, a 1 1/16-mile turf event.

Ganadora , trained by Bob Baffert and making her turf debut, took the lead when the gate opened. Closing Remarks, favored at 2-1 and breaking from the rail, tucked into third, with Awake At Midnyte  running in second to the outside of Ganadora.

“I knew Ganadora was going to be on the lead,” Rispoli said. “The best was going to be a matter of finding a way to go at the top of the stretch.”

Ganadora set easy fractions of :23.33 for the first quarter-mile and :47.48 for the half-mile. As the field headed into the final turn, Rispoli did find the way to go, tipping Closing Remarks to the outside, around Ganadora and Awake At Midnyte. 

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The Harris runner caught those two to take the lead in midstretch. Spirit And Glory , an East Coast invader and multiple stakes winner, came running late, but Closing Remarks was able to hold her off to win by a neck in 1:42.01. Ganadora finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Spirit And Glory.

Rispoli was riding Closing Remarks for the first time since late 2021.

“Umberto is the best,” said Gaines. “If there is any space, he’s going to get through, and that’s what he did. In grass racing you always want to save ground and he’s a master at it, so I just left it up to him. She didn’t have to make up quite as much ground as in her previous races and she loves this turf course.”

John Harris was in the winner’s circle along with Gaines, who has trained for Harris Farms for decades. Harris will return to the Del Mar area Aug. 17, when he is to be honored by the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation at its annual dinner. In between, the farm will consign a group of yearlings to the Aug. 15 Northern California sale that includes two colts by Vronsky , the sire of Closing Remarks. 

Vronsky stood at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif., prior to his death in 2021 at age 22 and had previously stood at the Johnston family’s Old English Rancho, another longtime California breeding facility. Several years ago, Old English and Harris Farms merged many of its operations, and today Jonny Hilvers, grandson of Buddy and Judy Johnston, manages Harris Farms.

Closing Remarks is out of Aspen Gal’s unraced daughter Orange Cove , a daughter of longtime leading California sire Unusual Heat , who also stood at both Old English and Harris. Lightly raced at 2 in 2020, Closing Remarks won the 2021 California Cup Oaks and placed in five stakes that year, including a second in the Del Mar Oaks (G1T), and she was voted the year’s champion California-bred 3-year-old female. Multiple graded stakes-placed in 2022, Closing Remarks this year won the April 1 Royal Heroine Stakes (G2T) at Santa Anita after thirds in the Feb. 4 Megahertz Stakes (G3T) and March 4 Buena Vista Stakes (G2T).

Video: Yellow Ribbon H. (G2T)

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