Todd A. Pletcher Racing Stables, Inc.

Stopchargingmaria Adds Alabama to Her Account

Stopchargingmaria Adds Alabama to Her Account

Stopchargingmaria Adds Alabama to Her AccountPhoto: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
Stopchargingmaria is in control in the Alabama Stakes. 
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By Jerry Bossert

While Untapable may be considered the best 3-year-old filly in the nation,Stopchargingmaria established herself as a close second after taking the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) for her second top-level win in a row at the Saratoga Race Course meet Aug. 16 (VIDEO).

Even-money choice Stopchargingmaria finished three-quarters of a length ahead of 24-1 longshot Joint Return.

It was the second straight grade I win for the filly owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, and her third straight stakes score. Stopchargingmaria won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico Race Course May 16 before taking the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) July 20 at Saratoga in a five-length romp.

Tracking pacesetter Size from the start, while racing three-wide under John Velazquez, Stopchargingmaria poked her head in front at the quarter pole. She first had to repel the rail bid from 30-1 outsider Miss Besilu in midstretch before holding off the late run from Joint Return to win for the sixth time from 10 career starts.

"In a perfect world, maybe, we wouldn’t have been quite so wide around the first turn," Pletcher said. "We just wanted to make sure we got her into a comfortable rhythm. We were willing to give up a little bit of ground to do that. It really worked out pretty well."

Stopchargingmaria is by Tale of the Cat   out of the Montbrook dam Exotic Bloom, bred by Harvey Clarke and Brookdale Farm. She was sold at the 2013 March Ocala Breeding sale for $220,000. With her Alabama win, Stopchargingmaria has now banked $1,414,000 in her career.

She returned $4, $3.20, and $2.70 to win after covering the 1 1/4-mile distance in 2:05.14 over a fast track. Joint Return returned $12.80 and $7, completing an $82.50 exacta. Miss Besilu was $8.50 to show while part of a whopping $879 trifecta.

Fortune Pearl finished fourth and was followed by Got LuckyAmerica,Catch My DriftUnbridled Forever, and Size, who weakened to last in the field of nine sophomore fillies after posting deliberate quarter mile fractions of :24.35, :49.92, and 1:15.18.

"We had to give up some ground all the way around there, and when (Miss Besilu) cut the corner it was like, ‘Uh oh,’ but she had plenty of time to see her and compete with her," said Pletcher, who saddled the Alabama winner for the second straight year following Princess of Sylmar in 2013.

Untapable, who won her first four starts this year including victories in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) before finishing fifth against the boys in the July 27 William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I), is scheduled to start next in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I) at Parx Sept. 27.

"She’s in the mix (for championship honors) now," Pletcher said of Stopchargingmaria. "We’ve got to keep winning. I’m not sure the Cotillion is the race we’ll choose. Maybe we’ll go to the Beldam (gr. I on Sept. 27 at Belmont Park). We’ll just have to see how she comes out of this. It probably will be one of those.”

For owner Mike Repole, the win completed a remarkable dream for the kid from Queens.

"As a kid in Queens I could never afford to get up here (to Saratoga)," said the multimillionaire. "I never had a car that could go three hours. I’ve always watched the big races. 

"For someone that’s only been in the game for about 10 years and only really five years with some quality horses, you want to win the Jim Dandy (gr. II). You want to win the Travers (gr. I). You want to win the Coaching Club (American Oaks). You want to win the Alabama. How lucky and blessed am I to say, 'Wow. Not only have I been in these races but I’ve won all four?' It might be a good day to retire."


Stopchargingmaria Impressive in CCA Oaks

Stopchargingmaria Impressive in CCA Oaks

Stopchargingmaria Impressive in CCA OaksPhoto: Coglianese Photos
Stopchargingmaria wins the CCA Oaks. 
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Repole Stable's Stopchargingmaria took over rounding the far turn and drew off to an impressive five-length victory overUnbridled Forever in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Saratoga Race Course July 20.

The victory by the daughter of Tale of the Cat  , the 6-5 CCA Oaks favorite, was her first since taking the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico Race Course May 16 and her fifth win in nine starts. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Stopchargingmaria stopped the timer in 1:49.80 under jockey Javier Castellano as she improved her bankroll to $1,054,000.

Unbridled Forever, who made a strong move along with the winner, finished second, with Miss Besilu four lengths farther back in third in the six-horse field. Stopchargingmaria paid $4.40, $2.60, and $2.10. Unbridled Forever was worth $2.90 and $2.20, with Miss Besilu paying $2.50 for third. America was fourth, followed by Taketheodds andCourageous Julie.

The start of the CCA Oaks was delayed after Courageous Julie reared en route to the track and threw one of her hind shoes. The 3-year-old daughter of Pioneerof the Nile   was returned to the paddock for a fix, but the farrier was unable to place a new plate on her and she was returned to the track. Couragous Julie was permitted to run, but for purse money only since she did not have any hind shoes in the race.

Once they broke from the gate, Besilu Stable's Miss Besilu took the lead and was quickly joined by Robert Manfuos homebred Taketheodds, getting the first quarter in :24. Taketheodds was in front by a head after a half was completed in :48 flat, with Miss Besilu still close behind, before Stopchargingmaria and Unbridled Forever moved in tandem.

Into the stretch, Stopchargingmaria held a 2 1/2-length advantage and continued to draw off for the final margin in spite of drifting out in the final furlong.

"It kind of unfolded the way we wanted it to on the first turn," Pletcher said. "We were able to get the position we wanted. She had a good trip from there, and it worked out well."

"I told (owner) Mike (Repole) that this filly has never trained better than she has here in the last month. She seems to really like Saratoga. She has been training much more powerfully than she did this winter, so we expected a big effort from her. The huge thing was to win a grade I. A filly of her résumé to get that grade I was huge. I thought she ran well enough today to certainly earn a spot in the Alabama (gr. I)."

The $600,000 Alabama Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/4 miles is Aug. 16).

"I had a beautiful dream trip," Castellano said. "My concerns were the small field and the one hole, which is sometimes difficult to get out. I'm glad it worked out perfect. I saved the ground on the first turn. After that I secured my spot. I like the way she did it today. Turning for home, I was thinking the race was over. At the top of the stretch, she took off. Now, the way she has matured, she was phenomenal today."

"I bought her at the Ocala March sale and Todd liked her right away, as well as Ed Rosen, my pedigree guy, and Jim Martin, my racing manager," said winning owner Mike Repole. "You know, I have the easy part. All I've got to do is write the checks. She worked really fast and we had some luck with Tale of the Cat with Overdriven   winning the Sanford (gr. II) and (Stopchargingmaria) turned out to be a nice 2-year-old.

"At first, we didn't think her 3-year-old season was coming out the way we thought it would be," Repole continued. "She had two average starts, and then she ran great in the Black-Eyed Susan. We brought her up here after Florida and since she's been here, she's been training like a different horse."

Repole jokingly said maybe Stopchargingmaria's early campaign was due to her being in Florida with Pletcher.

"If she would've come back here and stayed the same as at Gulfstream, I'd say maybe she just didn't mature as a 3-year-old. But it had to be that she just didn't like Florida, or maybe she just didn't like Todd, I'm not sure."

Dallas Stewart, trainer of Unbridled Forever, who was ridden by Joel Rosario, said his filly was outrun.

"She hooked another real nice filly. He (Rosario) was just real patient. She wasn't far back. She was only five (lengths) off the lead going on the backside. She came home good. We just got outrun. I can't make any excuses. Great filly. She's getting better and has matured nicely, so we'll see. We've got the Alabama here later on, and we'll see."

"She kept on going," Rosario said of Unbridled Forever. "She had one stride, one pace, but probably the winner was much the best today. I kind of followed her. When I broke out of the gate I just wanted to lay close to her or maybe be in front but I didn't have a lot of speed. She came with a late run but she was just second best. She ran a nice race. The filly that won the race right now is dominating the competition."

In addition to the CCA Oaks and Black-Eyed Susan, as a 2-year-old of 2013 Stopchargingmaria won the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) and Tempted Stakes (gr. III), finished second in the Spinaway, and was third in the Frizette, both grade I.

Stopchargingmaria began her season with a fifth in the Davona Dale (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in February and followed up with a fourth in the April 5 Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park.

Bred in Kentucky by Harvey Clarke and the Seitz family's Brookdale Farm, the CCA Oaks winner is the first foal out of the stakes-winning Montbrook mare Exotic Bloom. She was purchased by Repole for $220,000 from the Woodford Thoroughbreds consignment to the 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Woodford had purchased the filly for $47,000 from the Brookdale consignment to the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale.


Fashion Alert Wins Hard-Fought Schuylerville

Fashion Alert Wins Hard-Fought Schuylerville

Fashion Alert Wins Hard-Fought SchuylervillePhoto: Coglianese Photos/Adam Mooshian
Fashion Alert takes the Schuylerville Stakes on opening day at Saratoga.
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George Bolton and Barry Hall's Fashion Alert remained undefeated in two starts and picked up her first graded stakes victory in the process July 18, but had to work hard to do it in the $150,000Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga Race Course (VIDEO).

The 2-year-old Old Fashioned   filly, coming off a June 14 victory at first asking in the Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park, was given a battle from the start by Willis Horton's maiden winner Take Charge Brandi, who comes from the same female family as defending 3-year-old champion Will Take Charge.

The Schuylerville winner's share improved Fashion Alert's overall earnings to $250,000, bolstered by a $100,000 NYRA bonus offered to any 2-year-old to break its maiden at Belmont or Aqueduct Racetrackand go on to win a graded stakes at Saratoga.

Also making her second outing and graded stakes debut, Take Charge Brandi took the lead in the six-furlong test, but Fashion Alert went after her straight away after breaking inward at the start. Regathered and sent on her way, the 1-5 favorite pressed the front-runner on almost even terms through a quarter in :22.41 and a half in :45.21.

Those two opened a six-length advantage on three others coming around the final turn, and a dogged Take Charge Brandi dug deep inside as Fashion Alert challenged for the lead under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

After running five-eighths in :57.86, Fashion Alert finally shook loose of her rival and edged away to win by 1 1/2 lengths. D. Wayne Lukas trainee Take Charge Brandi held second under Corey Lanerie, whileTulira's Star finished a non-threatening third with Joe Bravo. Final time from the Todd Pletcher-trained winner was 1:11.78 on a fast track.

"I know that Wayne likes his filly a lot," Pletcher said. "They got into a prolonged speed duel. You could tell they were both getting a little tired, but she showed some guts. It's nice to get it done in the Schuylerville, a race we've always held in high regard.

"It's pretty hard to win your first two, especially both in stakes, so you have to give her a lot of credit for that. You hope those kind of efforts move them forward. Those two separated themselves from the field pretty much the entire race. Two very nice fillies."

Fashion Alert returned $2.40, $2.10, and $2.10. Take Charge Brandi brought $3.40 and $2.20 at 5-1, while Tulira's Star paid $2.40. Evrybdymstgetstonz and Mast Cove completed the order of finish. 

"She's definitely very talented," said Velazquez of the winner. "We wish we had a better break and got a better position at the first part. She kind of recuperated right away and got a good position going to the half-mile pole. From then on, I wanted to give her a little breather and see how she did, and down the lane she started leaning into the horse on the inside. Finally, she started getting away from her the last sixteenth of a mile."

Lanerie said he was pleased with the effort of Take Charge Brandi as well.

"It was good," he said. "She outbroke the field and just put me out there. I thought she was going pretty easy; she was well within herself. Coming to the quarter pole, I thought I had more (horse) than (Velazquez). I was kind of watching what Johnny was doing, and it looked like he was trying to nudge his horse a little bit. He obviously had more horse than I thought, but I thought I was going to run away with it.

"I think my filly probably needed the race. Last time she won so easy, and she probably got a lot more out of this race. I think the next race will be even better. She was in tight, and she ran professional."

Bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham and Jacob Nance out of the Tiznow   mare Titan Queen, Fashion Alert was a $125,000 purchase by Bolton from the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2013 when consigned by Bluewater Sales. She failed to meet her $25,000 reserve earlier that year at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale when consigned by Taylor Made.

"We'll see how she comes out of it," Pletcher said of Fashion Alert's potential next target. "I'm not going to rule out the (Aug. 10) Adirondack (gr. II), but we'll likely wait for the (Aug. 31) Spinaway (gr. I)."


Closing Divine Oath Snatches American Derby

Closing Divine Oath Snatches American Derby

Closing Divine Oath Snatches American Derby Photo: Four Footed Fotos
Divine Oath outfinishes Our Channel to win the American Derby.

Let's Go Stable's Divine Oath stormed up the rail and denied British raider Our Channel a win in the $200,000 American Derby (gr. IIIT) July 12 at Arlington International Racecourse (VIDEO).

Getting a ground-saving trip under Florent Geroux, Divine Oath was fifth in early stretch and gamely drove between rivals at midstretch before overhauling leader Our Channel late and scoring by a half-length. The victory was his first in a stakes.
A 3-year-old son of Broken Vow  , Divine Oath was timed in 1:56.50 for 1 3/16 miles on firm turf. Highball, who broke last in the 10-horse field, angled five wide into the stretch and was up to take third from favorite Schoolofhardrocks, three-quarters of a length behind Our Channel.
Based at Belmont Park with Todd Pletcher, Divine Oath was the 7-2 second favorite in the field of 10 sophomores and notched his third win from four turf starts. He came into the American Derby after closing well to finish fourth in the Penn Mile Stakes on the grass at May 31 Penn National Race Course. Prior to that, he was second in the Coolmore Lexington (gr. III) on the Polytrack April 19 at Keeneland. He broke his maiden on Gulfstream's turf course in January followed by a turf allowance there in February.
With Divine Oath settling into sixth after the start, Our Channel tracked from second and Schoolofhardrocks chased from third after Ghostly Wonder jumped out to set the pace. James Graham urged Our Channel to the front in early stretch and Schoolofhardrocks gave chase, but Divine Oath was moving fastest of all on the rail and was along in time for the win.
Divine Oath paid $9.20, $4.60 and $3.40 and Our Channel, 13th in the Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I) last time out, returned $6.40 and $4.60. Highball paid $6 to show. 
Afortable was fifth, followed by Big Tom PradoGiacallureHesinfront, and Ghostly WonderChief Barker was pulled up and vanned off the course.
Bred in Kentucky by Sanford Robertson, Divine Oath is the first starter out of the winning Forestry mare Rejoicing. Pletcher, as agent, bought the bay colt for $200,000 out of the Select Sales consignment at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale.


We Miss Artie, at 1-5, Wins Plate Trial

We Miss Artie, at 1-5, Wins Plate Trial

Back on Polytrack after a 10th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), We Miss Artie took charge in upper stretch and held off a tenacious Majestic Sunset to win the $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes at Woodbine June 15.

Sent off at 1-5 odds in the seven-horse field, We Miss Artie was comfortably settled into fifth on the rail as 16-1 shot Majestic Sunsetposted pedestrian fractions of :24.07 for the opening quarter-mile and :49.39 for the half-mile in the 1 1/8-mile test, while being closely tracked by Man o' Bear and Man Cave.

As Alan Garcia and Majestic Sunset began to separate from the rest of the field rounding the second turn, Javier Castellano moved We Miss Artie off the rail into the center of the track and took a slight advantage in upper stretch. With the favorite continuing his momentum, Majestic Sunset hung in for the stretch run before grudgingly yielding to the winner.

With only a few taps from Castellano on the shoulder, We Miss Artie strode to the wire in 1:50.78, three-quarters of a length in front of Majestic Sunset.

We Miss Artie paid $2.70, $2.10, and $2.10, with Majestic Sunset worth $7.20 and $4.10. They combined for a $16.50 exacta. Tower of Texasclosed well under Gary Boulanger for third, at $2.70. The order of finish was completed by Rhythm Blues, Man o' Bear. Ascot Martin, and Man Cave.

The Plate Trial, a prep for the July 6 Queen's Platethe most prestigious race in Canadamarked the fourth lifetime victory in 10 starts for We Miss Artie, who is three-for-three on Polytrack. The 3-year-old Artie Schiller   colt has earned $691,908.

Last year We Miss Artie scored a clear victory in the Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland, and this year, in his start before the Derby, We Miss Artie rallied late to win the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park.

Bred in Ontario by Richard Lister out of the Fusaichi Pegasus   mare Athena's Gift, We Miss Artie was a $90,000 purchase from the Cara Bloodstock consignment at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale.


Palace Malice Brilliant in Met Mile

Palace Malice Brilliant in Met Mile

Palace Malice Brilliant in Met MilePhoto: Anne M. Eberhardt
Palace Malice and John Velazquez take the Met Mile

Palace Malice proved his class in the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park, winning the second grade I of his career for Dogwood Stables a year after taking the 2013 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO).

Fourth with three furlongs left to go, the 6-5 favorite in a 12-horse field shifted off the rail and split rivals to run down tiring pacesetter Broadway Empire, then put away 2013 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) winner Goldencents while driving clear by a length. Romansh came in a half-length back in third.  

"It's pretty extraordinary to have a horse win the Belmont a year ago and come back and win the Met Mile from the number one post carrying 124 pounds and beating last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner," trainer Todd Pletcher remarked. "In the process, it's an unbelievable accomplishment." 

Broadway Empire, at 57-1, struck out for the early lead in the Met Mile and was tracked with about a one-length advantage by Goldencents, making his first start of the year. A quarter went in :23.01 and a half in :45.76 while 124-pound highweight Palace Malice, getting the rail trip from post 1 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, moved up from seventh place to third or fourth as Romansh made his outside move in pursuit of Goldencents and the leader.

Rounding the turn Palace Malice shifted gears and found running room between horses, easily clearing the tiring Broadway Empire on his inside before digging deep to pass Goldencents to his outside within the furlong grounds. The 4-year-old son of Curlin   ran the mile in 1:33.56.

"When I finally got him through, he started running," Velazquez said. "He was (hesitant to go through). The room was there, but I kind of have to keep him busy. The spot was there, but he went to jump from one side to the other one and I almost lost my spot. I got after him again, and he finally got through. Once he got through, he started running. (Out of the gate), the first jump was OK and the second jump he kind of grabbed himself a little. He didn't really bobble, he just stumbled a little bit, just a jump. After that I had to make sure I got him in the race."

Goldencents' connections said they were also pleased with their colt, who had not raced since finishing seventh in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) atAqueduct Racetrack last November.

"We needed a little tuneup," said Leandro Mora, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill. "This was his first race since he finished seventh in the Cigar. Too bad we couldn't have a race in between. We did all we could. We're extremely happy. We ran a great second, so we're fine. We're going for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita."

Palace Malice returned $4.70, $3.70, and $2.90 while Goldencents paid $5.80 and $4.80. Romansh brought $7.90, while Shakin It UpClearly Now, Broadway Empire, Scarly CharlyDeclan's WarriorVyjack,Normandy InvasionCapo Bastone, and Moreno completed the order of finish. 
Bred in Kentucky by W.S. Farish out of the Royal Anthem mare Palace Rumor, Palace Malice is undefeated in four starts in 2014, all of them graded stakes. He earned an automatic berth to the Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita Park in the Met Mile, a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event.

Shakin It up was pulled up past the wire by jockey Rosie Napravnik and vanned off the track. Dr. Larry Bramlage, a member of the AAEP On Call program, said Shakin It Up displayed "no instabilities or external swelling," but that he was lame in the left front and would be X-rayed and examined back at the barn for trainer Bob Baffert.

"He pulled up past the wire," Bramlage said. "The jockey felt him to be uneven and he was lame in the left front. Dr. Verderosa (New York Racing Association chief examining veterinarian) examined him. They didn't splint him or anything. He has no instability or external swelling. They just gave him a ride home in the ambulance to further examine him to be sure there wasn't anything wrong. He wasn't perfect when he pulled up."


Charming Kitten Win First Belmont Gold Cup

Charming Kitten Wins First Belmont Gold Cup

Charming Kitten Wins First Belmont Gold CupPhoto: Coglianese Photos
Charming Kitten rallies late to win the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational.
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Attempting the rare distance of two miles on turf for the first time, Charming Kitten overcame 10 rivals to win the inaugural $200,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational by one length at Belmont Park (VIDEO) June 6.

Running over a Widener turf course rated good, Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Charming Kitten was timed in 3:21.52 with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard. The course mark for the distance of 3:20 2/5 was established by King's General on July 4, 1983.

Todd Pletcher trains the winning 4-year-old son of Kitten's Joy   who was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Longines Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at nine furlongs on Preakness Stakes (gr. I) day at Pimlico Race Course May 17. Charming Kitten raced without blinkers while posting the second stakes win of his career.

The Ramseys bred the winner in Kentucky out of the Wild Again mare Iteration.

Said Ken Ramsey: "I've got the sire, and a rising tide raises all ships, you know? So that makes all the rest of them worth something, and it increases the distance factorI mean, two miles, that's good advertising."

Ramsey and Pletcher weren't sure what would be next for Charming Kitten.

"Where do you go from a two-mile race," asked a pleased Pletcher. "I guess you try to stay stretched out and look at mile-and-a-half type races. We'll put all of those in play. Kind of cool winning a two-mile race."

The dark bay or brown colt raced mid-pack from between horses in the field of 11 for much of the journey, before angling out rounding the final turn under urging from Velazquez. He reached the top of the lane four paths wide and took aim at the leaders, overtaking Irish Missionand Reflecting in deep stretch to score as the 5-1 third choice.

Comes the Dream set a predictably deliberate pace in the true marathon event while tracked by Twilight Eclipse and Mambo Man, getting a half mile in :52.57, a mile in in 1:43.84, and 10 furlongs in 2:09.28. Mambo Man, challenging on the outside, got the advantage briefly.

Twilight Eclipse took over heading into the drive with the stalking filly Irish Mission, benefiting from a ground-saving trip before angling off the inside for Irad Ortiz Jr., challenged and took a narrow lead in the final furlong. But Charming Kitten had all the momentum while pushing past on the far outside in deep stretch, drawing away in the final few jumps.

"He was going well the whole way around and when we got to the half-mile pole, I tried to move him a little bit and put him in the clear," Velazquez said. "He was tugging me so long that when I went to ride him, it took him an eighth of a mile to get back into the race. Finally, when we got down the lane he started running again, so it worked out good."

Irish Mission nosed out the quickly closing Reflecting for second, with second choice Twilight Eclipse (3-1) weakening to fourth, another 3 1/4 lengths farther back. Then came Sky BlazerSpy in the Sky,Auld Alliance (IRE)Eagle PoiseDraw Two, Comes the Dream, and Mambo Man.

"She ran well," said trainer Christophe Clement of Irish Mission, then joked, "She needs a little bit farther."

Draw Two, the slight 3-1 favorite over Twilight Eclipse, came up empty in the stretch after a stalking trip.

Winner of an allowance/optional claiming race on the KeenelandPolytrack as the favorite April 24 previous to the Dixie, Charming Kitten improved his career line to 5-5-2 in 19 lifetime starts with earnings of $706,250.

Besides the Dixie, the well-traveled Charming Kitten placed in the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIT), Virginia Derby (gr. IIT), Penn Mile Stakes, and Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) last year. He also competed in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), finishing ninth following a third-place effort in Keeneland's Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I),

Charming Kitten paid $13, $6.80, and $5.20, topping a $131.50 exacta with Irish Mission, who returned $10.80 and $7. Twilight Eclipse paid $12.80.

Wings of Fortune scratched.


Poker Winner Jack Milton Puts Pletcher at Top

Poker Winner Jack Milton Puts Pletcher at Top

Poker Winner Jack Milton Puts Pletcher at TopPhoto: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
Jack Milton wins the Poker Stakes.
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  • After racing last in the early stages, Jack Milton flashed quick finishing speed to win the $300,000 Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) May 26 at Belmont Park, a victory that made Todd Pletcher Thoroughbred racing's all-time leading money winning trainer.
The 2-1 second choice in the six-horse field, Jack Milton was shifted five wide into the stretch, overtook front-runner Plainview with a furlong to run and drew clear to a convincing 2 3/4-length tally. 
Big Screen was up for second, two lengths in front of odds-on favorite Za Approval.
Jack Milton earned the $180,000 winner's share of the Poker purse, pushing Pletcher's career purse earnings to $268,502,284. Pletcher moved past D. Wayne Lukas, his mentor, who is now second on the all-time list with $268,467,262.
"I think it's a product of inflation, to be honest," Pletcher said of his achievement, "and I don't think anybody is going to match Wayne's accomplishments in this business. That said, it's still a satisfying milestone for the team and a record to be proud of."
Pletcher trains Jack Milton for owner Gary Barber. The War Front   colt is perfect in two starts this season, following his 2014 bow in a one-mile allowance/optional turf race May 1 at Churchill Downs.  
Javiar Castellano settled Jack Milton at the back of the field on the rail, about nine lengths off the pace, as Peace and Justice dashed from the inside post to grab command early. Peace and Justice opened a 4 1/2-length lead down the backstretch, clocking a swift :22.57 for the opening quarter under a tight hold by Alex Solis, with Plainview and favorite Za Approval tracking from second and third, respectively.
After the half went in :45.45, Plainview closed in on the pacesetter and poked his head in front at the quarter pole in 1:09.62. 
Castellano fanned out Jack Milton nearing the three-sixteenths pole and he was keen to run when given his cue. 
Dispatching tiring Plainview to lead by a half-length in early stretch, Jack Milton ran on strongly as Big Screen, fifth at the top of the stretch, gamely split horses at the furlong marker but never was getting close to the winner. 
Jack Milton was timed in 1:33.09 for one mile on firm turf.
"My horse had a perfect trip," Castellano said. "There was a lot of speed in the race so he was able to settle and make a run. The firm turf was perfect for him."
Za Approval, runner-up to two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), went three wide into the stretch in a tepid challenge for Joel Rosario before flattening out in the drive.
Jack Milton's record improved to 4-1-4 from 10 career starts and $505,900 in earnings. The Poker was his second win in a stakes. Last year, he won the Transylvania (gr. IIIT), then posted consecutive third-place finishes in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) and Secretariat (gr. IT) and Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT). He closed the year by finishing sixth in the Hollywood Derby (gr. I) Dec. 1.
"He knocked on the door several times in some nice races last year, so it's gratifying to see him win a big one," Pletcher said. "He certainly deserves it. 
"I think he has improved as a 4-year-old, and he settled well today and gave a powerful kick. I think the mile distance suits him well, and we'll look at stepping him up a notch, maybe in a Ggrade I down the road."
Jack Milton paid $7.70, $4.10 and $2.20, and Big Screen returned $9.20 and $3.40. Za Approval, toting top weight of 122 pounds, paid $2.10 to show.
Plainview finished fourth, followed by Sinatra and Peace and Justice.
Bio Pro was a trainer scratch.
Jack Milton was bred in the name of Claiborne Farm owner Seth Hancock's Cherry Valley Farm. He is out of the Forty Nine mare Preserver and is a full brother to grade III winner Peace Preserver.
The dark bay or brown colt was offered by Claiborne at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale, where he was bought for $100,000 by Steve Young, agent. His reserve price was not met on a final bid of $190,000 at the 2012 Ocala Breeders' Sale Co. March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training. 


Revolutionary Fires Late, Takes Pimlico Special

Revolutionary Fires Late, Takes 'Special'

Revolutionary Fires Late, Takes 'Special'Photo: Rick Samuels
Revolutionary (left) comes from way back to win the Pimlico Special.
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WinStar Farm's favored Revolutionary, more than 30 lengths behind early following a heated pace, kicked into gear and circled his eight foes to win the $300,000 Pimlico Special (gr. III) by a neck at Pimlico Race Course May 16 (VIDEO).

It was the second big effort in a row by the Todd Pletcher-trained Revolutionary, who in his previous start April 12 rallied despite trouble to finish three-quarters of a length behind the victorious Will Take Charge in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II).

Friday was a big day at Pimlico for Pletcher, who won the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) two races earlier withStopchargingmaria.

The on-track attendance was 34,736 with the 13-race program generating a handle of $11,346,688.

A 4-year-old colt by War Pass out of the A.P. Indy mare Runup the Colors, Revolutionary was bred in Kentucky by W.S. Farish. WinStar purchased the colt for $235,000 at the 2012 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training.

The pace in the Pimlico Special, run on a track rated fast after staring the day sloppy, was set by Valid, who broke from the inside post and was hounded by Moreno for at least seven furlongs of the 1 3/16-mile race. The fractions were :22.75 for the opening quarter mile, :46.98 for the half mile, and 1:11.33 for six furlongs as Golden Lad, Korean-bredMajor King, and Cat Burglar raced just off the leaders.

Revolutionary, the 2-1 choice, tailed off 20 lengths behind his nearest opponent in the openng quarter mile under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith.

Moreno, under urging entering the stretch, held a short lead as Cat Burglar snuck through along the inside to challenge after completing one mile in 1:36.60. Meanwhile, Prayer for Relief, who ranged up on the turn, and Revolutionary, who had closed a large gap, took aim on the outside in upper stretch.

Revolutionary surged late under left-handed urging to edge Prayer for Relief at the line in 1:55.99, well off the track record (1:52.55) set by Farma Way in 1991. Cat Burglar was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third, getting the best of Moreno, who was a neck back in fourth.

"I didn't realize I was going to be so far back," Smith said. "I even asked him a little bit coming out of the gate. I was a little concerned and I thought, 'They must be flying out there.' Going past the five-eighths he really started to level off, and I felt confident he was going to run well.

"I didn't know if I would get by them all, but at the quarter pole I was pretty confident."

Revolutionary paid $6.40, $3.60, and $3.20 across the board. Prayer for Relief, who was fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap last time in his first start for trainer Dale Romans, returned $7.20 and $4.60. Cat Burglar returned $4.60 in his stakes debut for trainer Bob Baffert. The $2 exacta was worth $74, while the $1 trifecta paid $217.10.

Valid finished fifth, followed by Bourbon CourageCarve, and Golden Lad. Major King stopped leaving the far turn after being distanced. 

Revolutionary, third in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), also captured the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and Withers Stakes (gr. III) last year. He won his 2014 debut in an allowance/optional claiming test in January at Gulfstream Park, and followed up with a seventh-place finish in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 9.

After running fifth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 7, Revolutionary spent the remainder of last season on the sidelines.

"I think he showed last year and as a 2-year-old that he was a really good horse," Pletcher said. "The time off we gave after last year's Belmont Stakes did him well. This was a big effort for him."

Revolutionary, now with a 5-2-3 mark from 12 starts, has earned $1,347,600 for his connections.


Stopchargingmaria Cashes in Black-Eyed Susan

Stopchargingmaria Cashes in Black-Eyed Susan

Stopchargingmaria Cashes in Black-Eyed SusanPhoto: Skip Dickstein
Stopchargingmaria (left) gets by Vero Amore to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. 
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Repole Stable's Stopchargingmariareturned to her winning ways May 16 atPimlico Race Course, but had to fight to get the job done in the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II).

Closing three wide off the final turn in pursuit of  Vero Amore, the 3-year-oldTale of the Cat   filly appeared to have her opponent measured in the middle of the lane. Vero Amore dug deep, however, and it was only a determined surge from Stopchargingmaria that ensured her victory by a neck in the final strides over a track rated good. (VIDEO).

The victory was the first of the season Stopchargingmaria, who flashed brilliance as a 2-year-old in the Tempted Stakes (gr. III) and Demoiselle (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack in November. The Todd Pletcher trainee did not head on to the Breeders' Cup from there, however, and was reserved for a 2014 campaign that until now had not gone according to plan.

Stopchargingmaria began her season with a fifth in the Davona Dale (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in February and followed up with a fourth in the April 5 Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park. Third time was the charm, however, as the bay filly came in under Javier Castellano at odds of 7-2.

"To be honest, I'm not really sure why her first two races this year didn't go as well as last year," Pletcher remarked. "It took her a little while after the Fantasy to get back. After the Fantasy we took her up to Saratoga, and the cool weather seemed to invigorate her. Today she acted like she was back to her old self."

It was the first time Castellano had ridden Stopchargingmaria since partnering with her for her two prior stakes scores. He also rode her to a runner-up finish in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) on a sloppy, sealed track at Saratoga Race Course last summer.

Stopchargingmaria raced mid-pack for the first half mile, who drew closer on the outside rounding the final turn.

"It set up perfectly for us and I had a beautiful trip," Castellano said. "We took a look at the race beforehand. We figured there'd be a lot of speed and I just wanted to put her in a good position. We saved ground going into the first turn and after that it was a matter of keeping her in the clear. I had ridden her before at Saratoga on an off track, and she had no problems with it today at all. At the top of the stretch, I was pretty confident."

Eleven 3-year-old fillies contested the Black-Eyed Susan, with Sloane Square, also trained by Pletcher, the 3-1 favorite.

Longshot Image of Anna struck out for the early lead in the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan, and held that spot while setting a sharp pace through a quarter in :23.74 and a half in :48.90. Stopchargingmaria was back off the leader in sixth as they went up the backstretch, while Vero Amore tracked closer to the pace in second by about a length.

Vero Amore ranged up to collar the front-runner heading into the final turn, and Castellano sent Stopchargingmaria following right along. Vero Amore took over heading for home, but it was a short-lived advantage as the eventual winner closed three wide and leveled out for the drive.

Getting a mile in 1:39.19, Stopchargingmaria drew on even terms with her rival and then was all-out to eke out the score. Fortune Pearlrounded out the trifecta 2 3/4 lengths behind a final time of 1:51.79. It was the fourth Black-Eyed Susan victory for Pletcher, who previously sent out winners Spun Sugar (2005), Panty Raid (2007), and In Lingerie (2012).

Stopchargingmaria returned $9.60, $5.60, and $4. Vero Amore returned $12.80 and $9.40, while Fortune Pearl paid $5.80. Joint ReturnAmericaArethusaLa Mejor FiestaShanon NicoleSloane SquareEuphrosyne, and Image of Anna completed the order of finish.

The Black-Eyed Susan winner is the first foal out of the stakes-winning Montbrook mare Exotic Bloom, and was bred in Kentucky by Harvey Clarke and the Seitz's family's Brookdale Farm. Clarke, the breeder of champion I'll Have Another   and grade I winner Havana, lives in New Jersey and keeps his mares at Brookdale in Woodford County.

Clarke and Brookdale sold the Demoiselle winner to Woodford Thoroughbreds for $47,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale. Repole Stables went to $220,000 to buy her from Woodford Thoroughbreds, agent, at the 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training.


Palace Malice Turns Westchester into Workout

Palace Malice Turns Westchester Into Workout

Palace Malice, a prohibitive favorite at odds of 1-20, made easy work of his three opponents in the $142,500 Westchester Stakes (gr. III) May 11 at Belmont Park in his prep race for the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I). 

With John Velazquez riding for trainer Todd Pletcher and Dogwood Stables, Palace Malice tallied officially by 9 3/4 lengths while running the one-turn mile in 1:35.53 on a track rated good. Getting a good stalking trip, the race became little more than a paid workout for the top handicap horse.

Last year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner posted his third straight win in 2014 following earlier victories in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) March 8 and the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) three weeks later at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Palace Malice, a 4-year-old son of Curlin  , is expected to make his next start in the $1.25 million Met Mile June 7, Belmont Stakes day.

The winner's share of $90,000 boosted Palace Malice's career earnings to $1,961,135 with a record of 6-4-1 in 15 starts.

Palace Malice eased back into third behind pacesetter I'm Steppin' It Up and Pletcher stablemate Red Rifle up the backstretch in quarter mile fractions of :23.61 and :46.69. Allowed to pull his way up to the front-runners around the sweeping turn, Palace Malice staked a one-length advantage as they reached the quarter pole in 1:11.32. He took command through the lane, leading by 6 1/2 lengths mid-stretch, and came home under some coaxing from Velazquez.

Declan's Warrior, who trailed the leader by 10 lengths for the first half of the journey, ran on for second under Joe Bravo, with I'm Steppin' It Up and Jose Caraballo holding third.

Bred in Kentucky by William S. Farish out of the stakes-winning Royal Anthem mare Palace Rumor, Palace Malice was a $25,000 buy as a Keeneland September yearling in 2011 by pinhooker Colin Brennan, agent. Brother Niall Brennan consigned Palace Malice to the 2012 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training, where Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stable supplied the winning bid of $200,000.

Palace Malice was the first grade I winner for his classic-winning sire Curlin, and is also the first stakes winner for his dam, who has produced four winners from her four foals to date.

Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, Palace Malice paid $2.10 and $2.10, teaming with 9-1 second choice Declan's Warrior ($2.60) for a $4.90 exacta. There was no show wagering.

Palace Malice now has two wins and two seconds in four starts at Belmont Park. He won last year's Belmont Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths before finishing a distant second to Ron the Greek in last fall's Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). Palace Malice completed his 3-year-old season with a sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

He showed his adaptability to the mile distance in his head victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap to begin his 4-year old campaign. Palace Malice then defeated Normandy Invasion by nearly five lengths in the 1 1/8-mile New Orleans March 29.


Unitarian Wins Elkhorn With Stylish Late Run

Unitarian Wins Elkhorn With Stylish Late Run

Unitarian Wins Elkhorn With Stylish Late RunPhoto: Mathea Kelley
Unitarian flies home to win the Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes.
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After plodding along near the back of the field, Unitarian unleashed an energetic burst of speed down the Keeneland turf course and wore down War Dancer to win the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes(gr. IIT) April 25 (VIDEO).

The 4-year-old son of Pulpit scooted clear to a 1 1/4-length triumph at 18-1 odds under Javier Castellano and posted his first stakes win in the feature race on closing day of the Lexington track's spring meeting.

Tracking from midfield early, War Dancer grabbed the lead from pacesetter Tattenham at the eighth pole and opened a clear lead. The War Front   colt could not stem the closing rally of Unitarian, however, yielding in the closing strides to hold for second. He finished another 1 1/4 lengths in front of 9-2 favoriteTemeraine, who raced evenly to hang on for third by a neck overSuntracer in the 13-horse field.

"I really liked the way the race unfolded for a come-from-behind horse," Castellano said of Unitarian, who relaxed in 11th and 12th in the early running, then was angled eight wide and uncoiled a determined outside stretch run.

"I took my time. It's a mile-and-a-half race. It's a long distance. The first two turns I saved all the ground. The way the race developed worked out great for me. My horse gave me a good run the last part of the race. When he saw the daylight turning for home, he took off."

A homebred trained by Todd Pletcher for Robert S. Evans, Unitarian was timed in 2:32.50 for the 1 1/2 miles on turf rated as good. His career line improves to 4-3-4 from 15 career starts with earnings of $331,480. He came into the Elkhorn after finishing last of seven Feb. 22 in his stakes debut in the 1 1/8 mile Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIT), in which he did not handle the grass at the New Orleans track. But stretching out to the Elkhorn distance for the first time, he took care of business.

"I think he fits these kinds of races and he continues to improve like we thought he would," Pletcher said. "With a little more improvement, maybe he can step up a notch."

Unitarian paid $38.80, $19.80 and $12 to key a $551.80 exacta with War Dancer, who returned $9.80 and $6.80. Temeraine brought $4.20.

Suntracer was followed by Tricky Hat, Tattenham, Forte Dei Marmi,Amen KittenEagle PoiseOld Time HockeyRoyal BenchOptimizer, and Hangover Kid to complete the order of finish.

Unitarian is a Kentucky-bred colt out of the stakes-winning Dynaformer mare Minimalist, a daughter of Irish group III-placed Gdansk's Honour, ancestress of multiple grade I winner General Quarters   and Japanese group winner A Shin Top.


Danza Dominates in Arkansas Derby Shocker

Danza Dominates in Arkansas Derby Shocker

Danza Dominates in Arkansas Derby ShockerPhoto: Coady Photography
Danza and Joe Bravo upset the Arkansas Derby.

Danza sent shock waves through the big crowd at Oaklawn Park when he took command in upper stretch at odds of 41-1 and rolled to an open-lengths victory in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) April 12 (VIDEO).

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent the winning son of Street Boss   to victory from Florida in just the colt's fourth lifetime start for owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. The victory qualifies Danza for a slot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 3 at Churchill Downs; he ranks sixth on the leaderboard with 100 points.

Jockey Joe Bravo had Danza prominently placed while saving ground throughout the 1 1/8-mile test, and the winner responded when asked to exploit an opening along the inside at the top of the lane. Danza drew clear through the long Oaklawn stretch drive, and neither of the favorites, 8-5 Bayern nor 2-1 Tapiture, could raise a challenge.

The previously unbeaten Bayern, who led most of the way before relinquishing the advantage to Danza, was tagged late for second byRide On Curlin. That likely means the well-regarded Bob Baffert trainee will not advance to the Kentucky Derby under the point system used by Churchill to determine the 20-horse starting field. Southwest Stakes (gr. III) winner Tapiture finished fourth in the field of eight sophomores.

Danza, who was timed in 1:49.68 over a fast track, paid a whopping $84.60 to win, and teamed with 7-1 shot Ride On Curlin for a $561.40 exacta. 

The winner, bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm and Brandywine Farm out of the French Deputy mare Champagne Royale, was a close third in the Saratoga Special last summer at Saratoga Race Course. He was third in his only other start since that race, a first-level allowance/optional claiming event at seven furlongs March 1 atGulfstream Park.


Princess of Sylmar Gets Off to Winning Start

Princess of Sylmar Gets Off to Winning Start

Princess of Sylmar used the $100,000 Cat Cay Stakes as a good starting point for 2014 season at Aqueduct Racetrack April 6, gliding through an opening off the turn and cruising to victory.

The 3-5 favorite in the field of five older fillies and mares, Princess of Sylmar won under a hand ride from Javier Castellano for Ed Stanco's King of Prussia Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher. She completed the one-turn mile test in 1:34.79 on a fast main track while defeating second choice Wedding Toast by 3 1/2 lengths.

"It was ideal, what we were hoping for," Pletcher said. "Good to see her back."

A four-time grade I winner last year as a 3-year-old, she lost her chance at an Eclipse Award when she finished last of six after stumbling at the start of the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.

Sunday's appearance was the first for the daughter of Majestic Warrior   since that debacle. Given some time off, she returned to training in February at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida and was recently transferred to Belmont Park, where she had a couple of timed breezes over the training track.

"With the way she had been training she indicated she's as good as ever," Pletcher said. "We were expecting a good performance. I thought for this type of race it came up pretty tough. [Wedding Toast] is a very good filly. We feel like we had her ready to run well, but we tried not to overdo it. It's a long season, and there are bigger goals ahead."

According to Pletcher, Princess of Sylmar is using the overnight stakes as a prep for her first major objective of the season, the $1 million Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) on Belmont Stakes day June 7. A rematch with BC Distaff winner and two-time champion Beholder is possible in the Phipps.

"We'll see after that, but I think races like the Delaware Handicap (gr. I) are a possibility, the Personal Ensign (gr. I), the Beldame (gr. I). Those are the type of races we're looking at right now," Pletcher said. "I think she runs well fresh. One thing with her we're always trying to be aware of is keeping her weight up. It's a long season, and, considering she runs as well as she does fresh, (there is) no need for a prep in between."

Princess of Sylmar was reserved early while slightly off the rail in the Cat Cay as Highestmaintenance, the longest shot in the compact field at 25-1, was sent out to lead Montana Native and Wedding Toast. Castellano was content to let the favorite track in fourth through solid quarter mile fractions of :22.97, :45.61, and 1:09.64. 

As the first three lined up to vie for the lead rounding the bend, Princess of Sylmar moved into gear, finding room between Montana Native and Wedding Toast while three wide coming into the stretch. Princess of Sylmar was quickly in command by 3 1/2 lengths at the furlong marker and continued to stride for the wire while handled steadily by Castellano.

"I liked the way she did it today," Castellano said. "Very professional, as always. The pace set up for her well. One thing she did well today was split horses through that narrow hole and went right by those horses very nicely. That was phenomenal. She was much the best."

Princess of Sylmar posted her ninth win from 12 lifetime starts, and her fourth in five tries at Aqueduct, where launched her successful campaign last year. She won both the Busanda and Busher stakes at the New York track in 2013 before finishing second to Close Hatches in the Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) exactly one year ago.

The chestnut filly went on to win four grade I races in successionthe Longines Kentucky Oaks, TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama Stakes, and Beldame Invitationalbefore shipping west for the Breeders' Cup. With her latest win, Princess of Sylmar has banked $1,667,220.

Wedding Toast, the 7-5 second favorite, was second by four lengths over Flash Forward, with Highestmaintenance and Montana Native trailing.

Princess of Sylmar was bred in Pennsylavania by Stanco out of the stakes-placed Catienus mare Storm Dixie.

"Today was beyond my expectations," Stanco said. "By giving her the time off, she got bigger, gained weight, 150 pounds, I think. Javier said she's right back in her form. This was what we were looking for. She didn't have to have a breakthrough performance today, just show us form and that you want it." 

Carrying 120 pounds, the same as Wedding Toast and Flash Forward, she paid $3.80, $2.10, and $2.10. Wedding Toast paid $2.10 and $2.10 and the exacta was worth $5.30. Flash Forward paid $2.50. Villettescratched.


My Miss Sophia Romps in Gazelle
My Miss Sophia Romps in GazellePhoto: Coglianese Photos
My Miss Sophia runs away from the competition in the Gazelle Stakes.
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Mathis Stable's My Miss Sophia rolled to a decisive victory April 5 in the $300,000Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack (VIDEO), stamping her ticket to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) atChurchill Downs.

The chestnut daughter of Unbridled's Song came off a 5 1/4-length maiden victory at second asking going a mile March 9 at Gulfstream Park to ace her stakes debut under Javier Castellano. She set an uncontested lead and easily carried on for an impressive 7 1/4-length score ast the 4-5 favorite in a field of six.

Off with ears pricked in the 3-year-old filly test at 1 1/8 miles, My Miss Sophia clicked through moderate fractions of :24.31, :48.23, and 1:12.39 while maintaining a one or two-length advantage over Vero Amore. That rival never quite came to My Miss Sophia as she cut the pace just off the inside in hand, and once the leader turned for home, she widened her advantage while shown the stick intermittently to the wire. Final time was 1:50.48 on a fast track.

"It went how we thought it might on paper," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "It looked like My Miss Sophia was the only speed, but you never know how a race is going to unfold. It certainly played out the way we thought it would. Vero Amore was kind of on her flank a little bit, but it didn't look like she was ever under any pressure. You have to have a horse that can do that. You can't take a horse out of their game."

Pletcher runners finished one-two as Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Philip Steinberg's Got Lucky closed four wide to secure the place in the final strides. The A.P. Indy filly who came off a second-place finish toUntapable in the Feb. 22 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) going 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, is also viewing the Oaks as a target.

"That's the plan," Pletcher said. "We felt like Got Lucky ran well also. While the pace scenario was good for My Miss Sophia, it worked against the other filly. But it hopefully set her up. And she got a little squeezed at the start."

"She broke well out of the gate," Castellano said of My Miss Sophia. "I was the only speed and I took advantage of it. She was able to relax. I was really impressed because she had only been shorter distances and today we stretched her out to a mile-and-an-eighth. I think she improved and I liked the way she did it and she was much the best in the race."

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who rode Got Lucky, echoed Pletcher's sentiments about the pace setup for his mount.

"Good trip; it was what we expected," he said. "She doesn't show much speed. I try to place her wherever she's comfortable. She ran as best as she could."

My Miss Sophia returned $3.60, $2.50, and $2.10, while Got Lucky paid $2.90 and $2.30. Grade I winner Sweet Reason brought $2.30  while finishing half a length farther back in third. ero Amore, Bird Maker, andWraith completed the order of finish. 

Bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther out of the Langfuhr mare Wildwood Flower, My Miss Sophia was a $260,000 purchase from the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Glennwood Farm. She now has two wins and a second from three starts and earnings of $211,800, and earned 100 points on the road to the Kentucky Oaks. That ties her for fifth in the standings with stablemate In Tune to make the 14-horse starting gate for the female counterpart to the Derby. Got Lucky is 10th with 64 points on the list.


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