Ballymore Lady made a late burst in the final yards and got the jump over three rivals at the shadow of the wire to take a thrilling edition of the $125,000 Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 14 on the Tampa Bay Downs turf.
Ridden by Jose Lezcano, Ballymore Lady was eighth after a half-mile set by Elusive Lady
in a tightly-bunched field of 12 fillies and mares. Under the handling of Joe Bravo, Elusive Lady set early splits of :24 flat and :48.69 while being pressed closely by Audacious Chloe
. Those two were noses apart at the quarter-pole and continued their duel in upper stretch.
Elusive Lady held onto a narrow advantage while gamely racing along the hedge, but Ballymore Lady made her presence known inside the sixteenth-pole on the outside, while Sousaphone was bursting through on the inside.
It wasn’t until the final few jumps that Ballymore Lady stuck her head in front, out-finishing Elusive Lady by a neck. Sousaphone’s late run earned her third place, a nose better than Audacious Chloe. The final time for 1 1/16 miles on the ‘firm’ turf was 1:42.37.
"This is a really hard trying mare," Lezcano. "She runs her race no matter where she races. I did want her to be close, but we got bounced around in the back stretch and I was forced to try her off the pace. But it didn't bother her, I took her outside in the upper stretch and let her do her thing. I was pretty sure we were going to win it inside the eighth pole."
The victory was Ballymore Lady’s first in graded stakes company. The 6-year-old daughter of War Chant—Basking, by Alydar won an allowance test at Tampa two starts back after finishing second, but being placed first through disqualification.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, she finished fourth in the Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream Park to begin her 2009 campaign. The bay mare’s best previous effort in graded stakes competition came last summer when finishing second in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
Now 7-3-2 from 19 career starts, Ballymore Lady has earned $305,6555. She is owned by Ron McCauley and Colin Purcell, and was bred in Kentucky by Grapestock LLC.
Going off as the fourth choice, Ballymore Lady paid $14.80, $6.20, and $4.60. The exacta (4-1) returned $88.60, while the trifecta (4-1-7) with 45-1 shot Sousaphine was worth $1,739.60.
, sent off as the 3-2 favorite, finished fifth.