With Edgar Prado aboard, Bit of Whimsy collared Classic Neel mid-stretch and had the better of that rival in the final furlong of the 1 1/8-mile event. But Rutherienne, in full drive for the wire on the far outside for Garrett Gomez after trailing the field for the first half-mile, reached even terms with the final lunge. Classic Neel, ridden by Alan Garcia, settled for third, a half-length behind. The final time was 1:48 2/5 on firm turf.
Bit of Whimsy, sent off at odds of 10-1, was making her stakes debut for trainer Barclay Tagg and owners Joyce B. Young and Gerald McManis. Rutherienne, owned and bred by Virginia Kraft Payson and trained by Christophe Clement, earned her first graded stakes victory and her third stakes win in four tries. The connections each collected a winning share of $43,600.
"I thought that if she continued to move forwardly, she could be right there. We’ll see where we go with her," Tagg said of Bit of Whimsy, a chestnut daughter of Distorted Humor --Kristi B (El Prado). "At first, I thought we won, and then I thought we didn’t. When I saw the final photo, it looked like his horse had dropped down in front of us. When they put the 4 and the 5 on the board, I thought we were second. Then, I saw the dead-heat sign.”
"She’s got a good kick and you’ve got to be nice to Barclay," joked Clement. "I like to share. I thought we finished second, but she ran a very good race coming from out of it. Gomez said that the turf was very, very firm, and that worked against her.
"She is a very good filly," Clement said of Rutherienne, a dark bay daughter of Pulpit--Ruthian (Rahy). "She’s made five starts and won three stakes. Not many three-year-old fillies have won three stakes by June 2. The last time I had a three-year-old filly that won this many stakes at this time of the year was Voodoo Dancer. I don’t know what we’ll do next. We can go to Hollywood or wait for Saratoga. I’ve just run her three times in 40 days. It might not be a bad idea to sit on her for a little bit.”
Bit of Whimsy raced close to the leader Tears I Cry through fractions of :24 4/5, :49 2/5 and 1:14. With Classic Neel challenging three wide, the trio came off the final turn three abreast before Classic Neel began to inch away. Bit of Whimsy, now on the inside, rallied to edge ahead of Classic Neel in deep stretch and just failed to hold off relentless Rutherienne.
“I thought I won it," Prado said. "I’ll take a dead heat over a nose loss. We were galloping along nice and easy. That horse was really coming on the outside. My filly was very game between horses.”
Gomez said the slow pace was tough on Rutherienne.
"She’s a filly we want to cover up, so there was nothing I could really do," he said. "She overcame that, and hopefully, she’ll keep moving forward. I had no idea at the wire.”
The 7-5 choice Rutherienne, who paid $3.10, $3 and $2.40, won for the fourth time in five starts with earnings of $62,635. Bit of Whimsy now stands with two wins in three outings and winnings of $77,600, returned $8.10, $6.90 and $4.40. Classic Neel was $3.40 to show.
Sharp Susan, the 17-10 second favorite, was never comfortable racing on the inside, finished fourth, followed by Tears I Cry and Survived. Bold Assurance, Officer In Pursuit and Olivine, entered for the main track only, were scratched, as was Sister Desiree.
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