Heart Ashley opened up on the turn for home, looked like she would coast to an easy win, and then had to hold off the late charge of Cinderella's Wish to win the $100,000 Adena Stallions Miss Preakness Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) by a head May 15 at Pimlico Race Course.
Coming off a two-month layoff, odds-on favorite Heart Ashley, by Lion Heart, was very keen from the start, as were second-choice Gatorette and third pick Mani Bhavan. On the inside down the backstretch under Garrett Gomez, Heart Ashley ran with the other two fillies through quick opening fractions of :22.66 for the first quarter and :44.86 for the half-mile.
As the field headed through the turn, Gomez let his filly open up, and it appeared he would just hand-ride her to the wire. But Jeremy Rose had Cinderella’s Wish under the whip, and she closed gamely to lose a narrow decision in the race for 3-year-old fillies.
Heart Ashley went the five furlongs in :57.22 and completed the six furlongs in 1:10.79 on a fast main track.
“They were making her work early," Gomez said. "What I wanted to do was just squeeze her leaving there so she could make the lead fine, and she did. After I made the lead, they came over on her and put pressure on her all the way up the backside. She never got a breather until the middle of the turn.
"In the last sixteenth of a mile, she was looking for a place to slow down. She ran a very good race, especially for going that fast."
Heart Ashley paid $3.80, $3, and $2.10. Cinderella’s Wish returned $5.80 and $2.80, and a distant third was Trophy Collector, who paid $3.60 to show. The exacta (2-4) returned $20.40 and the trifecta (2-4-6) was $68.
Owned by Zayat Stables, Heart Ashley is trained by Steve Asmussen. It was her fourth win in six starts and second consecutive stakes victory, having taken the Cicada Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct in her prior start in March.
Out of the Beau Genius mare Pretty ‘n Smart, Heart Ashley was bred in Kentucky by Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds. She was purchased at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale for $320,000.
“I think she’s got a tremendous amount of talent," Asmussen said. "(Assistant trainer) Toby Sheets has had her at Belmont and has done a great job with her, but the weather has not been cooperating with us lately. The idea off the Cicada was to freshen her up, but it wasn’t to miss a few works. I think she just won on talent today.”
Gatorette finished fourth, followed by Mani Bhavan. Bold Union, Miss Ocean City and Snow Lass were all scratched.