Country Life Farm’s 3-year-old filly Monte Crista made a trip to Saratoga pay off as she got the jump on her competition and held off favorite Tapit Today to win the $100,000 Riskaverse Stakes on Aug. 23. The final margin was a length and a quarter as she completed the mile on the turf in 1:37.28.
It was the Michael Trombetta-trained filly’s fourth win, and first in a stakes, from six starts. In her previous outing she was third in Indiana Grand’s TaWee Stakes.
Monte Crista was purchased by Country Life for $30,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-year-olds in training sale, but didn’t make her first start until this past March at Laurel on the main track, where she finished seventh. She has been near perfection in her subsequent starts, all on the grass. She broke her maiden at Laurel on April 28 by four and a quarter lengths, won a Monmouth allowance in her next start on June 10 by nearly two lengths, and returned to Laurel to win an allowance by four lengths over older rivals 13 days later. In the TaWee in July, she closed to finish a length and a half behind the winner.
The chestnut daughter of Cape Blanco (Ire) represents three generations bred by the late Howard Bender and his wife Sondra. A descendant of the Benders’ blue hen mare Foufa (by Storm Bird), Monte Crista adds her name to the family’s long list of stakes winners that includes graded winners Foufa’s Warrior, London Lane and Just Howard, Monte Crista’s year-older half-brother by English Channel. Just Howard was named 2017 Maryland-bred Horse of the Year after a season in which he won three stakes, including a course record performance in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Derby, and was on the board in seven of 10 starts.
Monte Crista’s dam Aruban Sandwich (by Alphabet Soup out of Foufa’s daughter Travelling) produced four foals for Bender before his death in September 2015. Aruban Sandwich was sold two months later at the Keeneland November sale for $8,000 in foal to English Channel and exported to Saudi Arabia. Bender’s estate sold Monte Crista the following September at the Keeneland yearling sale for $11,000.
All of Aruban Sandwich’s U.S.-based foals are now winners. Just Howard, third in the Grade 3 Dixie Stakes in his first start of 2018, recorded his fifth career win in a turf allowance at Laurel on Aug. 9.