My Typhoon Weathers Wiley on Polytrack
Wait a While, last year's 3-year-old filly champion, finished off the board as the 1-2 choice in the field of six.
The Jenny Wiley for older fillies and mares was programmed as a grade II event on the turf but would be dropped to a grade III pending a final decision from the American Graded Stakes Committee.
Eddie Castro drove the stalking My Typhoon to victory over a stubborn Precious Kitten, who prompted the pacesetter Mauralakana for most of the journey before taking the lead with Rafael Bejarano in the final furlong. My Typhoon, who moved into contention on the final turn, proved best in the stretch, however, to win by a neck in 1:37 4/5 for the 1 1/16-mile distance.
"The pace was slow but I got her behind the other horse and it set up until the stretch and I chased down (Precious Kitten)," Castro said.
It was more than four lengths back to Fantastic Shirl, with Edgar Prado aboard, who rallied for third along the inside of the tiring Mauralakana.
Wait a While, who chased slow fractions of :24 2/5, :50 1/5 and 1:14 4/5, did not respond to jockey Garrett Gomez on the final turn and was not urged through the lane as My Typhoon and Precious Kitten pulled away from the field. She finished fifth, ahead of only outsider Essential Edge.
"I made a bad decision when I didn't scratch her (when the race was taken off the turf)," trainer Todd Pletcher said of Wait a While. "I had wanted to scratch and take her to California for a race there. She's a filly that likes firm going and didn't seem to get a hold of the Polytrack. She just didn't fire."
The Irish-bred My Typhoon, who finished sixth in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) in November, snapped a three-race losing string for trainer Bill Mott. A multiple grade II winner, the 5-year-old Giant's Causeway mare began her 2007 campaign with a second-place finish -- 1 3/4 lengths behind Cassydora -- in the Hillsborough (gr. IIIT) on the Tampa Bay Downs grass course March 17.
The chestnut had never raced on an artificial track prior to Saturday. She carried 119 pounds, four fewer than the co-high weighted Wait a While and Precious Kitten.
Mott said he was glad to see the race taken off the turf.
"We felt it would probably be safer running on the Polytrack than it would be on real soft turf. The big question is you don't really know, not having tried it before, who in the race was really going to excel on it.
"Our filly trained here last fall before the Breeders Cup and she had worked well over it a number of times so I felt good that she handled it, but you just don't know what everybody else is going to do."
The consistent My Typhoon has won seven of 17 lifetime starts with three seconds and three thirds. She has earned $823,361 after collecting Saturday's winning purse of $124,000.
Sent off as the fourth choice, My Typhoon paid $14.80, $5.60 and $5. Precious Kitten, who was second to Wait a While in the Honey Fox Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park March 4, returned $5 and $4.40. Fantastic Shirl was $6.80 to show in her graded stakes debut.
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