By Dick Jerardi
In the end, the vote was not close. Vequist got 212 votes for champion 2-year-old filly; turf star Aunt Pearl got 24.
Thus, a Parx-based horse has been named champion 2-year-old filly for the second time in three years. First, it was Jaywalk who got her start at Parx with trainer John Servis. Now, it’s Vequist who got her start at Parx for trainer Butch Reid.
The championship was a career highlight for Reid. It’s something he always hoped for, but could not be sure he would ever get.
“It was a box we weren’t sure we were ever going to check,’’ Reid said. “It’s really cool to have one that you know is the best at what she does. To be somehow involved with that is really outstanding.’’
Butch and his wife Ginny have been a great team at the barn for decades. That they are getting such a wonderful payoff only seems fair.
It almost didn’t happen. Vequist was in a weanling sale in November 2018, but was pulled before the sale. She was offered at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale by owner/breeder Tom McGrath’s Swilcan Stable, with a reserve of $120,000.
“Vequist went through the (Yearling) sale, but didn’t draw any interest,’’ Reid said. “Sixty people looked at her and not one person vetted her. There was something they didn’t like about her.’’
When she first ran last year, there was so much to like about her that top owners Gary Barber and Adam Wachtel contacted McGrath to buy a piece. A deal was done. Vequist won the Grade I Spinaway, finished second in the Grade I Frizette and won the Grade I BC Juvenile Fillies, clinching the championship.
Vequist’s dam Vero Amore has since given birth to two more fillies. The 2-year-old will be heading Reid’s way when the weather breaks. And the yearling should be on her way next year.
After winning the BC race at Keeneland on Nov. 6, Vequist was sent to Florida for a bit of rest. She has been back in training at Palm Meadows Training Center for several weeks. Last Saturday, she had her third breeze since returning, 5 furlongs in 1:00.95. She will have three more works before her first race of 2021.
That race to start her 3-year-old campaign is planned for the Davona Dale on Feb. 27 at Gulfstream Park, a one-turn mile. Then, the plan is for one more race prior to the Kentucky Oaks on April 30, the day before the Kentucky Derby.
“It’s a good place to come back,’’ Reid said.
Vequist, the trainer said, “looks fantastic. She’s eating everything in sight. The weather is so good. She’s put on weight. Her body has really matured even since last year. I’m really excited with how she’s doing right now.’’