Making her graded stakes debut, Magical Feeling split the two favorites in deep stretch to pull off a 27-1 stunner in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) Feb. 18 at Laurel Park (VIDEO).
A 6-year-old daughter of Empire Maker, Magical Feeling had won four of her past five starts entering the seven-furlong Fritchie, but was in against the stiffest competition of her career. Owned by Peter Blum Thoroughbreds and trained by Allen Iwinski, the Parx Racing-based mare won for the 11th time in 19 lifetime starts, none bigger than this one.
Magical Feeling is out of the Forestry mare Magical Mood. She was bred in Kentucky by Blum.
“I have always wanted to win this race,” said Blum, who last had a runner in the Fritchie in 1975. “In my opinion it is one of the top filly and mare races in the country. It has been won by some of the greatest race mares of our time. It feels tremendous to finally stand in this winners’ circle.”
The dark bay/brown mare was near the back of the field of seven for most of the way, and still trailed by about five lengths at the top of the stretch. But with Roberto Alvarado Jr. aboard, she methodically closed ground on the leaders, and when they reached the final 50 yards she charged between 7-10 favorite Nicole H
, who was on the inside, and C C's Pal
, the second choice who was running on from the outside. Magical Feeling got up just before the wire to score by a neck.
The final time on the fast dirt was 1:22.36.
Nicole H, a grade II winner who had won five of her previous six starts for trainer Michael Hushion, settled for second under Ramon Dominguez, a nose in front of C C’s Pal and Junior Alvarado.
The early pace was set by Aquitania
, who raced through an early quarter-mile in :23.47 with Lovely Lil
breathing down her neck, and Nicole H sitting a perfect stalking third just behind them. Nicole H easily took over approaching the half-mile pole, and led by three lengths at the top of the stretch.
Magical Feeling finished third in her 2012 debut Jan. 21 at Laurel, losing by 3 1/4 lengths to fellow Fritchie entrant Red's Round Table
in an optional claimer. She won five times in 2011, all but one of them coming at Parx. The other victory was at Monmouth Park in the Regret Stakes.
“I knew I had a lot of horse under,” said Alvarado. “She knows where the wire is. I won the same kind of race in the stakes at Monmouth. Coming off the pace and making a run through the stretch and getting up in the final jumps. At the eighth-pole I started getting confident. She kept getting closer and closer. When we got there I had no doubts we would win it.”
Magical Feeling broke her maiden in September 2010 in a $12,500 maiden claimer at Parx. With Saturday's win, she upped her earnings to $401,520.
“She’s an unbelievable mare,” said Iwinski. “She has a winning attitude. Peter Blum couldn’t have named her any better. She has tried as hard as she can run every time we send her out. The best word to describe her is phenomenal.”
The winner paid $56.80, $16, and $5.20. The exacta (4-6) returned $149.20 and the trifecta (4-6-3) was worth $165.60.
Aquitania was fourth, followed by Silver Heart
, Lovely Lil, and Red's Round Table, who stumbled badly at the start and never recovered. Lily Quatorze