Andrew Rosen’s First Passage won her third in a row and became a graded stakes winner in the process as she took over from pacesetter Kays and Jays in the stretch and went on to win the $200,000 Azalea (gr. III) (VIDEO) by three-quarters of a length July 11 at Calder Race Course.
First Passage, a 3-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway—Win’s Fair Lady, by Dehere, won the six-furlong Azalea in a final time of 1:11.22 on the ‘fast’ dirt. The event was the first of four graded stakes sprints on Calder’s Summit of Speed program.
Just as she did in her minor stakes wins at Calder earlier this year, First Passage came from off the pace under Jermaine Bridgmohan for her victory. Kays and Jays took the field of nine into the stretch by posting brisk fractions of :21.40 and :44.99 with Jose Lezcano aboard, but First Passage came roaring by on the outside at the eighth pole and outlasted her game rival for the win. Marty Wolfson was the winning trainer.
“When she came to me from France she was a very nervous filly, but she’s settled down very well," Wolfson said. "They told me her limit (distance) would probably be six furlongs, but I think she’ll go seven-eighths or up to a one-turn mile. I’ve had some nice fillies, but I think she’s the most beautiful filly I’ve ever had."
Kays and Jays was three lengths better than third-place Royal Card. Underground, the 3-2 favorite, finished eighth.
First Passage, bred in Kentucky by Classic Star 2004 Powerfoal Stable, won for the fourth time in six career starts. She has now earned $237,440.
The winner paid $9, $4.20, and $3. The exacta (9-7) returned $43.80 and the trifecta (9-7-3) was $296.
One race later in the $200,000 Carry Back (gr. III) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old males going the same distance, Ted Julio’s Not for Silver took advantage of a speed duel on the front end and came from off the pace to win by 4 1/2 lengths under Jose Lezcano.
The son of Not For Love—Silverdew, by Silver Deputy, also earned his first graded stakes score. Last out, the Michael Trombetta trainee was runner-up in the Hirsch Jacobs (gr. III) at Pimlico May 16.
Going off at odds of 4-1, Not for Silver dropped well back of the field after being steadied at the start while Truest Legend, Prince Joshua, and Wall Street Wonder dueled through a :21.12 opening quarter. Prince Joshua and Wall Street Wonder were still battling at the top of the lane, but both were tiring as Not for Silver blew by from the outside in upper stretch.
“This race set up perfectly for my horse today," Lezcano said. "He showed last time out that he runs well by taking back and coming from off the pace. There was a lot of speed in here and I knew they would be flying on the front end, so I just sat patiently and he was ready when I asked him.”
The final time was 1:11.91. You Luckie Mann also came from off the pace to get second, 1 1/2 lengths better than Prince Joshua.
Bred in Maryland by Dark Hollow Farm, William H. D. deBurgh, and George I. E. Harris, Not for Silver won for the fourth time in seven starts. He returned $10, $3.40, and $2.60.