Maren’s Meadow, the victim of a sponging incident at Delaware Park last fall, proved she’s over the misfortunate episode and back in top form when she won the $150,000 Bourbonette Oaks Stakes (gr. III)(VIDEO
) for trainer Larry Jones at Turfway Park March 22.
Tackling two turns for the second time off a runner-up finish behind Sky Mom in the Feb. 17 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park, the Meadowlake filly demonstrated an ability to win at a longer distance after tracking the pace in the one-mile Bourbonette. Her two other career victories were a Dec. 31 allowance going 5 1/2 furlongs at Fair Grounds and a Aug. 14 wire-to-wire maiden win going six furlongs at Delaware Park.
“She’s been training very well, and since we started putting her around two turns she’s been a different horse,” Jones said. “She took to the Polytrack very well… I knew after two days of training at Keeneland she would handle the surface. I was on her myself.”
Maren’s Meadow has consistently tackled top company throughout her eight career starts for Sandra Rasmussen’s River Ridge Ranch. She was second to Bsharpsonata in her debut race at Delaware and ran fourth to Proud Spell in the Sept. 15 Matron Stakes (gr. II) last year. She was sponged prior to an Oct. 16 allowance event at Delaware, when she finished third as the 9-10 favorite. Coming out of that race, the filly underwent an operation at Rood and Riddle near Lexington, Ky., to remove the object that was obstructing her nasal passage.
In the Bourbonette, Maren’s Meadow faced 8-5 favorite A to the Croft and 7-2 second choice Clearly Foxy, both unraced since respective sixth- and ninth-place finishes in the Oct. 27 Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). Third at the start under Gabriel Saez, she maintained that position five wide while Love Buzz went to the front and was pressed through an opening quarter in :24.18 by Lovers Spat. Valentine Fever raced fourth. A to the Croft and Clearly Foxy trailed the field in seventh and eighth.
They went a half in :47.69 with Maren’s Meadow making a bid followed by Downtown Drifter. Taking command after three-quarters in 1:12.27, the filly rolled into the stretch with a two-length lead over Valentine Fever, who was closing from her mid-pack position. A to the Croft, after racing seventh until the half-mile pole, made a bid as well.
“Larry (Jones) said Love Buzz would probably go to the lead and to sit behind her,” Saez said. “I stayed two to three lengths back and off the rail. Larry also said when I wanted to go with her, just go, and that’s exactly the way it turned out. She ran beautifully.”
They came down to the wire with Maren’s Meadow in front by 1 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:38.15. Valentine Fever was second and A to the Croft got up for third. Downtown Drifter, Morakami, Lovers Spat, Clearly Foxy, and Love Buzz completed the order of finish.
“We’ll probably keep her here through (Pimlico’s) Black Eyed Susan (gr. II, May 17) and look at going to Woodbine after that with her,” Jones said. “We’ll probably stay away from our other two who are on the (Kentucky) Oaks path (Proud Spell and Eight Belles).”
In spite of A to the Croft’s third-place finish, trainer Ken McPeek said he was happy with the Menifee filly’s effort.
“Any time you hit the board in a graded stakes race, it’s nice,” he said. “She’s a good filly and we’re going to win some big ones with her. I thought she was struggling over the racetrack a little bit, but we hadn’t trained over the Poly all winter. (Jockey Robby Albarado) said he was surprised he was as far back as he was. I’m not sure where we will run her back. We’ll see how she comes out of it.”
Sent off at odds of 6-1, Maren’s Meadow returned $17.60, $7.80, and $4.20. Valentine Fever and jockey Julien Leparoux paid $6.20 and $3.40, while A to the Croft brought $2.60 under Robby Albarado.
Bred in Ontario, Canada, by Josham Farms Limited out of the Yukon mare Gold Liaka, Maren’s Meadow was a $25,000 purchase at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2006. She now has a 3-2-1 record from eight starts, with earnings of $177,225.