Sixth in a field of seven through most of the backstretch, the 5-year-old daughter of Silver Charm advanced steadily along the rail as she hit the far turn. The gray/roan mare was fourth at the top of the stretch, but was full of run once she cleared horses at the eighth-pole, then sprinted home as much the best as the even-money favorite.
Maryland-bred Tessa Blue, who led at the top of the lane, finished second, a length in front of Golden Velvet. Altesse was fourth. The final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:49.73.
Out of the Easy Goer mare Relaxing Rhythm, Spring Waltz entered the Rampart with a three-race win streak, all in allowance competition. Her most recent victory was a marvelous 13-length score at Gulfstream, also at nine furlongs.
Bred in Kentucky, Spring Waltz has done no worse than second in nine lifetime starts, winning six of them. She began her career as a 4-year-old, making her first six starts at Woodbine for trainer Brian Lynch. She has now earned more than $300,000.
“Mr. Stronach deserves a lot of credit for her success," Lynch said. "She had several issues as a young horse, including shin problems, but he said to persevere with her, that he thought he believed she would be worth the wait. So she didn’t start until last year as a 4-year-old and she developed through her conditions, improving all the time.
"I was concerned today that she was back off the pace and behind horses for so long. Then she had to split horses, but she came through and ran a great race. I think she’ll run in the two-turn stakes on Derby Day at Churchill Downs when we’ll have Sugar Swirl for the Humana Distaff. I think I’ll have both of them through those races, and then they’ll go with Bobby (Frankel) while I go back to
Peach Flambe set the early pace, posting fractions of :23.94, :47.91, and 1:11.92 for six furlongs. Tessa Blue tracked the leader from second through the backstretch, while Golden Velvet and Ballado’s Thunder were in perfect striking position.
It was just after the half-mile pole that Spring Waltz began her steady move towards the front. As they came out of the final turn, she seemed to be boxed in near the inside, but Castellano found a way through.
“There was no question that I was concerned with getting stuck behind horses on the final turn," Castellano said. "We had to squeeze through a little bit, but she’s got a big heart. As soon as we made it through she hit another gear and took off. I really like riding her because I can do whatever I want to do on her.
"In her last race she was on the lead and this race I put her behind horses. (Lynch) told me that he wasn’t going to tell me how to ride the race, but that he did have a little concern with the early speed. He wanted me to be patient, but he said it was up to me. She’s a very nice (mare).”
Spring Waltz paid $4, $2.80 and $2.10. The exacta (5-1) returned $17.20, while the trifecta (5-1-2) was worth $41.20.
Tessa Blue, a graded stakes winner, entered off a 3 ½-month layoff, her last effort a fourth-place finish in the Nov. 22 Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. Golden Velvet was running two months after winning the one-mile Sabin Handicap (gr. III) in a dead-heat, a race where it was later learned that she had been sponged.