Alex Rankin’s 9-5 favorite Tar Heel Mom repelled a big from Hour Glass in upper stretch and bounded home for a 2 1/2-length win in the $150,000 Distaff Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) April 17 at Aqueduct.
Graded stakes placed in her last three tries, Tar Heel Mom finally scored for the first time in graded company. The 5-year-old Flatter mare was ridden to victory by Ramon Dominguez for trainer Stanley Hough. The final time on the fast main track was 1:24.51 for seven furlongs.
Tar Heel Mom led at ever call, breaking sharply from post 3 and going right to the front in a field of five. She clicked off an opening quarter-mile in :22.13 with Thunders Dove giving chase, then reeled off a half-mile in :44.93 while Matchless Orinda and Hour Glass advanced.
When Tar Heel Mom came off the turn her only threat was Hour Glass, who was now in perfect striking position under David Cohen. But Tar Heel Mom responded to the challenge, as she edged away in upper stretch en route to her decisive victory.
Hour Glass was a clear second, two lengths in front of Matchless Orinda.
In her three starts this season entering the Distaff Handicap, Tar Heel Mom was third by a head in the Sugar Swirl (gr. III), runner-up by a half-length in the Hurricane Bertie (gr. II), and second in the Inside Information (gr. II)—all at Gulfstream Park. Her win improved her record to 7-5-3 from 19 starts and upped her earnings to $457,192.
“It’s great for the people who have her to win a grade II," Hough said. "She had been running against some really nice fillies at Gulfstream and in all three of her previous graded stakes tries, she had run quite well. She had also run pretty well over off tracks before, so I didn’t think that would hurt her. I know her next start will be in New York, but we’re going to give her a little time off now.”
Tar Heel Mon was bred in Kentucky by Upson Downs Farm and is out of the Sunny’s Halo mare Perpetual Light.
The winner paid $5.60, $2.90, and $2.10. The exacta (3-4) returned $15 and the trifecta (3-4-5) was $27.20.