Prohibitive favorite Silmaril punched her ticket to the Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) next month with a workmanlike victory in the $96,400 What A Summer Stakes for fillies and mares, the co-feature on Saturday’s Laurel Park program.
Chris Grove saddled the 1-2 favorite, with the trainer intent on getting a solid prep out of his stable star for the $300,000 President’s Day weekend sprint. Under jockey Ryan Fogelsonger, Silmaril tracked the leaders to the top of the lane, then drove between a wall of horses and pulled away to win by three lengths in 1:11.11. Scheing E Jet finished second by 1 3/4 lengths and La Chica Rica was third in the five horse field.
Toting top weight of 124 pounds, Silmaril, owned by Stephen E. Quick and Christopher J. Feifarek, paid $3, $2.20 and $2.10.
“I wanted to save a little bit of ground around the turn,” said Fogelsonger, her regular rider since January 2005. “I don’t think I’ve felt her this well in a long time.”
This was the eighth stakes victory for the 6-year-old daughter of Diamond, at yet another distance. She has won added-money races at five different distances , from six to nine furlongs, during her career . Her biggest score to date is a victory over champion Ashado in the 2005 Pimlico Distaff Handicap (gr. III).
"Five different distances in a stakes, that’s special,” said Grove, who’s dad Phil was a longtime jockey in the Mid-Atlantic. “What always impressed him was a horse that could win at every distance. Being able to win today is impressive because that is what he instilled in me as a kid.”
Silmaril earned $60,000 Saturday and has won 12 of 26 starts in her career for $639,153.
“By far she is the best horse I have ever been on and not just because she wins,” added Fogelsonger, the 2002 Eclipse Award winner for outstanding apprentice who has 1,101 career winners. “She just does whatever she wants. She is a phenomenal horse.”
“I think when she beat Ashado that’s the best she’s ever been,” added Grove. “But right now she’s good and she’s consistent, whereas before she was kind of back and forth a little bit. Every time we bring her over here she fires.”
Scheing E Jet, who rallied five wide under A.R. Napravnik, paid $3.40 and $2.40. La Chica Rica, ridden by Mario Pino, returned $2.60.