Secret Gypsy got an ideal trip for jockey Jamie Theriot to score a two-length win in the five-horse Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) Aug. 8 and remain undefeated in three starts at Saratoga Race Course.
Favored Warbling threw her head at the break and trailed the field for a half-mile in the $147,000 event for fillies and mares. She never threatened while finishing third, a neck behind runner-up Hour Glass.
Secret Gypsy overtook pacesetter One Smokin' Lady, who blazed an opening quarter-mile in :22.43 before the winner drew within a head at the quarter pole after completing a half-mile in :45.19. Secret Gypsy took control rounding the turn and opened a clear 2 1/2-length edge when given her head through the stretch run. She won comfortably with Theriot showing her the stick in the final sixteenth. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:09.82 on a fast track.
Hour Glass, who dropped about five lengths off the pace on the backstretch, made up some ground for jockey David Cohen in the lane but was no match for the winner. Warbling, ridden by Julien Leparoux, made a gallant effort to recover from her bad start but had to settle for third after battling with Hour Glass for the second spot. Pretty Prolific was two lengths back in fourth, followed by a tired One Smokin' Lady.
Ronny Werner trains Secret Gypsy, a a 5-year-old daughter of Sea of Secrets--MIss Utada, by Rahy, for owners Richland Hills Stable and John Kuehl. Norman Cheng bred the winning chestnut mare in Kentucky.
“Her races and her confidence have been getting better," Werner said. "Sometimes it’s hard to get fillies back – she’s had some problems in the past and we were working through that, mentally and physically. She’s done well here. I wish it was a longer meet!
"She’s changed her style of running a little bit this year. She’s starting to sit off a little bit more and relax more, and that just comes with age. Older and wiser. I’d love to run her in the Ballerina (gr. I, Aug. 28), but it might be a little quick. We’ll just have to see.”
Secret Gypsy won the Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows by 4 3/4 lengths in her most recent start June 25. That ended a five-race losing streak since she captured the Distaff Handicap (gr. II) on Aqueduct's inner dirt track in a front-running effort in March 2009. The well-traveled Secret Gypsy has also won races at Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs while compiling a 7-2-2 mark in 16 starts with earnings of $506,926.
“I knew my filly would be in a good place but when (Warbling) blew the break, it put me up there," Theriot said. "From there, it was just a matter of time because I was in a stalking position and let her run through her lane. She finished very well. Her last couple of races, she really came around.”
Sent off as the second choice, she carried 118 pounds and paid $6.10, $3.70, and $2.70 while topping a $29.20 exacta. Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) winner Hour Glass, rebounding from a sixth-place finish in the Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) July 10 for trainer Todd Pletcher, returned $4.90 and $2.90. Warbling, who ran second in the Princess Rooney, was $2.20 to show as the 119-pound high weight.
“For whatever reason, she just didn’t break today," trainer Eddie Kenneally said of the 3-2 favorite. "She ran a really big race after that, and Julien rode her fine – it was nobody’s fault. She kind of moved as they opened the gate and she was caught with one foot in the air and didn’t get away real sharp. She’s fine, though.”