Mighty Maryfield Wins Ballerina Shocker

Mighty Maryfield Wins Ballerina Shocker
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Maryfield (left) takes the Ballerina Breeders' Cup at the wire.
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California shipper Maryfield certainly shines in New York. Returning to the Empire State for the first time since she captured Aqueduct's Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) for trainer Doug O'Neill in March, the late-charging 6-year-old mare won a desperate head bob at odds of 16-1 to nose an unlucky Baroness Thatcher at the wire of the $250,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 26.

Ridden with vigor by Elvis Trujillo, the 6-year-old Elusive Quality   mare overcame her rail post in the seven-furlong test to arrive at the wire just in time following a relentless drive on the far outside. The final clocking on fast going was 1:22 3/5.

The Canadian-bred Maryfield saved ground on the inside before swinging four wide on the turn to make a strong run at Baroness Thatcher, who had opened up a narrow advantage in the lane. The two hooked up approaching the eighth pole and battled head-and-head to the finish.

“My horse was feeling great," Trujillo said. "(Baroness Thatcher) was pretty tough. She fought hard. But my horse matched strides with her and caught her at the line.”

Baroness Thatcher, a 3-year-old, took over the lead for jockey Garrett Gomez from the front-running Indian Flare coming into the stretch and just failed to last in a game effort. Baroness Thatcher, trained by Patrick Biancone, validated her big third-place effort in the Darley Test (gr. I) Aug. 4.

“My filly dug in and showed a lot of heart," Gomez said. "That’s the one thing she has a lot of, and she makes up for the little size she has."

After setting a lively pace in the Ballerina -- :22 1/5 for the opening quarter mile and :44 2/5 -- Juddmonte's grade II winner Indian Flare faded badly in the stretch. The 5-year-old Cherokee Run mare pulled up in distress and collapsed past the finish line. She reportedly died of cardiovascular shock after suffering a fractured pelvis.

Maryfield was coming off a fourth-place finish in Calder's six-furlong Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) when she was compromised by a speed-favoring track. With Trujillo on her back for the first time that day, she finished just 1 1/4 lengths behind the red-hot River's Prayer on a good track.

The winner lit up the tote board to the tune of $35, $16 and $10.40 and keyed a $276.50 exacta with Baroness Thatcher ($9.90, $6.80).

Maryfield's only two graded stakes wins in a 27-race career have come in New York. She has eight lifetime victories and earnings of $726,831. The victory was worth $150,000 to owners Mark Gorman, Nick J. Mestrandrea and Jim Perry.

"This is just so exciting to win a grade I at Saratoga, one of the best tracks in the world," said Gorman.

"She’s been a gift from the horse gods. I believe in this horse. (Trujillo) rode her perfectly. She doesn’t break real quick, but he doesn’t rush her up."

Gorman said Maryfield would point to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Oct. 26 at Monmouth Park.

"We’ll probably go straight to that race. I don’t think Doug has anything else planned for her.”

O'Neill was at Del Mar during the race..

Bred by Mike Carroll and John C. Harvey Jr., Maryfield is out of the Desert Wine mare Sly Maid.

It was four lengths back to Miraculous Miss ($7.40) and Ramon Dominguez, who nosed Boca Grande at the wire for the show spot. Julien Leparoux, the rider of Boca Grande, launched an objection against Dominguez for interference in the upper stretch, but it was disallowed.

The previously undefeated Burmilla, making her first start in the Godolphin colors after winning her first four races for Darley, was bet to 13-10 favoritism but was not a factor. Romping winner of the six-furlong Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga more than three weeks ago, the 4-year-old Storm Cat filly broke alertly from her extreme outside post in the nine-horse field to briefly get the lead. But after falling into a stalking spot on the far outside, she dropped back rounding the turn and failed to rally for jockey Rafael Bejarano. Burmilla finished sixth.

“She broke good, but she didn’t have the speed I needed," Bejarano said. "Since she was off the lead today, she seemed intimidated.”

Swap Fliparoo, winner of the 2006 Darley Test, finished fifth. Nothing But Fun, Pussycat Doll and Indian Flare trailed.


(Chart, Equibase)

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