Charles Miller's even-money favorite Prospective Saint, given a patient ride by Eddie Castro, proved best in the stretch to defeat her pace rival Maggie Slew by a half-length in the $150,000 Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares at Ellis Park Saturday.
Trained by Martin Wolfson, the Florida shipper won under steady urging while carrying top weight of 119 pounds. A 5-year-old Saint Ballado mare, Prospective Saint completed the mile in 1:36 for her first graded stakes win.
Prospective Saint sat closest to the pace as Maggie Slew, with Randall Toups aboard, got the early lead along the inside, clicking off the opening quarter-mile in :23 3/5. Prospective Saint closed the gap to lead at the half-mile point in :46 2/5 and was right with Maggie Slew as they reached the six-furlong mark in 1:10 1/5. Prospective Saint put her head in front at the eighth pole and slowly edged away from a game Maggie Slew.
It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Plaid, ridden by Brian Peck, in third. They were followed by Character Builder, Fast Navy, Starry Pie, Fly Away, Ten Carat Ruby, Beau Watch and Sea Siren.
Edward P. Evans bred the winner, who is out of the A.P. Indy
mare A.B. Prospect, in Kentucky. She earned $90,000 for her eighth win in 19 starts, bumping her bankroll to $483,343. She has won three of her past five, including the Shocker T. Handicap at Calder Race Course on a sloppy track in October.
Prospective Saint paid $4, $2.60 and $2.40. Maggie Slew returned $3.60 and $2.80. Plaid was $4.60 to show.
Island Escpape scratched.