High Ridge Road Nails Photo In Barbara Fritchie To Keep Laurel Record Perfect
Martin S. Schwartz’ High Ridge Road made a bold late move in Saturday’s G2 Barbara Fritchie Stakes, getting up just in time to nail favored By The Moon in a photo finish at the wire. The 5-year-old daughter of Quality Road has a perfect record at Laurel Park, with four wins from four starts, including this, her first graded stakes victory, for trainer Linda Rice. Under Horacio Karamanos, High Ridge Road completed seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:22.50.
“I really didn’t want to be inside and I got lucky,” Karamanos said. “I saw the speed go and I sat behind. She made me work at the three-eighths pole, she was a little bit lazy but I don’t think seven-eighths is the perfect distance for her. At the top of the stretch she gave me a little kick but she didn’t want to switch leads. Once she switched leads at the sixteenth pole and gave me a kick, I got up at the wire over the other filly. I beat her last time, too.”
Wonder Gal and Rowd E Allie broke from the gate in unison, vying for the early lead. Wonder Gal, carrying her head a bit awkwardly to the outside, was just a head in front through a first quarter in :22.70. The leaders were tracked by another pair, with favorite By The Moon locked in along the rail by Clothes Fall Off. Meanwhile, Karamanos and High Ridge Road had left the gate a half-step slow, and the jockey really had to ride the mare in the first quarter mile in order to keep pace with the leading pack.
Rowd E Allie took over after a half in :45.34, but By The Moon bulled her way between horses to range up into second, just inside Wonder Gal. Rounding the far turn, By The Moon worked her way to the lead, and had a one-length advantage at the top of the stretch.
High Ridge Road looked as though she were finished half-way through that far turn, as she was passed by a pair of horses, trapping her along the rail. Karamanos didn’t panic, biding his time and angling the mare out at the top of the lane. He rode her hard for the first sixteenth, but she refused to change leads. After Karamanos threw several crosses on her neck, High Ridge Road finally switched to her right lead, and at that point was able to close with a solid late kick.
“I’ve been a little nervous about being in the one post position all week since they drew the race and was concerned about that, but I thought [jockey Horacio] Karamanos negotiated himself out of the one-hole pretty well,” said Rice. “In the middle of the turn I thought we might be in trouble; she wasn’t making up any ground but then as soon as he got her to the outside in the stretch and she switched her lead she’s really got a great closing kick so I was very excited.”
By the Moon had looked an easy winner, but appeared to hang a bit when on an easy lead all alone. Karamanos was just able to get High Ridge Road up for the win over By the Moon at the wire. Clothes Fall Off came back to be up for third, and Wonder Gal held on to fourth.
“We’re just thrilled to get a Grade 2 win for this filly,” Rice continued. The Barbara Fritchie has been a race that I’ve wanted to win. I ran La Verdad in the Barbara Fritchie and she finished second; it was a little too far for her. It’s a thrill to win the race. It’s a prestigious race and it’s been around a long time. I’m also really excited to get a Grade 2 win for this filly for her broodmare value and for Mr. Schwartz. He’s a great owner and he’s great for the game. He invests his money and I’m glad we could get such a great result.”
Bred in Kentucky by Betz, Kidder, Blackburn, Lamantia, J. Betz, Graves and Davidson, High Ridge Road was a $180,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase. Pinhooked by Eddie Woods, she commanded $350,000 at the OBS April 2-year-old in training sale the next spring. The consistent, lightly-raced mare boasts a record of five wins from 11 starts, with two seconds and three thirds, for earnings of over $400,000.
Union Rags Colt Earns Rising Star Nod at Gulfstream
Patch built on a strong debut performance with a professional graduation at Gulfstream to earn a “TDN Rising Star” nod. Sluggish early in his debut going six furlongs here Jan. 15, the Calumet Farm homebred showed a big stretch kick to pass seven horses in the final furlong and pick up second. Off as the 31-10 second choice stretching out to a mile in this spot, Patch stalked the pace from third through a :23.68 quarter and snappy :46.31. Ranging up three-deep nearing the top of the lane, he challenged 50-1 leader Meantime (Shackleford), a half-brother to MGISW Sweet Reason (Street Sense) and eventually grinded that one down to tally by 1 3/4 lengths. Favored firster Take Your Guns (Blame) was a distant third. The winner is a half to Tiz Windy (Tiznow), GSW, $321,791, while his second dam Unbridled Wind (Unbridled) is a SW full-sister to champion Banshee Breeze. Windyindy has a 2-year-old Oxbow filly and foaled a colt by Point Given last season before being paired with Aikenite.
Stakes Double for City Zip
Hot City Girl, heroine of the 2015 GIII Charles Town Oaks and third-place finisher in that same season’s GI La Brea S., entered off a pair of third-place finishes, most recently completing the trifecta in Aqueduct’s Interborough S. Jan. 22. The half-sister to champion female sprinter La Verdad pressed the early pace from second, hit the front in midstretch and had enough left in the tank to hold off the fast-closing longshot Jet Majesty. “We’re not sure [if she’ll continue racing or retire],” winning owner Sheila Rosenblum revealed. ‘We want to hear about her Beyer Figure. It’s a good option to have: breeding shed or racing, which one will it be? Being that she’s mine, I can make that decision quietly, not tonight. But if she didn’t race well, we knew the answer. This was a very important win and [Manny Franco] rode her beautifully. And we had some good speed competition there. We’re proud.” The stakes-placed Noble Fire, also the dam of Thursday’s sharp Oaklawn debut winner Noble Freud (Freud), produced a Will Take Charge colt in 2016
WIDE COUNTRY S.
China Grove, runner-up in the Astoria S. at Belmont last summer, completed the exacta in a Keeneland sprint Oct. 9 and filled the place spot again next out in Churchill’s one-mile Rags to Riches S. Oct. 10. Closing out her juvenile season with a sixth behind Farrell (Malibu Moon) in the GII Golden Rod S. beneath the Twin Spires Nov. 26, the bay raced back off the pace in fifth through an opening quarter in :23.16 and advanced a bit to be fourth through a half in :46.73.
Ranging up three-wide in the lane, China Grove kicked clear to score her first black-type success. AI had a perfect trip,’ said winning rider Kendrick Carmouche. AI just wanted [Crabcakes] to maintain his position by getting out of there and getting in front of me where I could follow him and have a target. That was the only horse I considered the last quarter of a mile who could run with me. I knew my filly had run against better horses. My horse proved to be the best horse today.’ The winner has a yearling half-sister by Twirling Candy and her dam was bred back to inaugural GI Belmont Derby winner Mr Speaker