C C's Pal closed into a torrid pace and held off a late run from Island Bound to register a neck victory Aug. 3 in the $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course (VIDEO).
The 5-year-old daughter of Alex's Pal, coming off a third-place finish in the July 1 Bed o' Roses Handicap (gr. III) for owner Eric Fein and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., went six furlongs in 1:09.88.
C C's Pal, sent off as the 3-1 second choice, was steadied in the stretch along the inside when blocked at the three-sixteenths pole as she rallied from fifth in the eight-horse field. She altered course to the outside and got the lead close to home under right-haned urging from Junior Alvarado, then outlasted the fast-closing Island Bound.
"It was awful quick up front," Dutrow remarked. "We wanted to save ground around the turn. She can lead, stalk... she fired another bullet. The instructions were outrun the inside horses, save ground around the turn and find a seam turning for home."
It's Me Mom
, the 9-5 favorite, took the early lead from Winning Image
and Roman Treasure
. She carved a wicked :21.14 opening quarter and a half in :43.78 to lead by two lengths over Roman Treasure and Winning Image, but the quick splits did in It's Me Mom as well as her pursuers.
Closed off on the inside coming off the far turn, Alvarado was forced to swing C C's Pal to the center of the track. She ground down to the wire in the center of the track to take the lead in deep stretch from Maple Forest
, who had passed the tiring Roman Treasure and It's Me Mom.
"This filly is just amazing," Alvarado remarked. "She has enough speed to be close if they are going slow, or if they're going fast I know I'll be in a good spot. That's pretty much what happened. They went real, real fast, and I was in a nice spot saving ground. She really gave me a nice kick at the end."
Island Bound rallied wide from sixth at mid-stretch to nail down the runner-up spot for Julien Leparoux. It was 1 1/2 lengths to third-place finisher Beat the Blues
, ridden by Rosie Napravnik.
The Honorable Miss was the second stakes victory on the card for Alvarado, who won the $100,000 John's Call aboard Harrods Creek
one race earlier.
Carrying top weight of 120 pounds, C C's Pal returned $8.50, $4.50, and $2.80. Island Bound paid $6.60 and $4.40. Beat the Blues brought $4.40. The exacta was worth $51, with the $2 trifecta returning $272.
Bred in Florida by Beth Bayer, C C's Pal is out of the Noactor mare Roca. The winning bay improved her career record to 9-7-7 from 31 starts, with earnings of $798,086.
The Honorable Miss score was her third in seven starts this season and second grade II stakes win. She took the Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park
Belle of the Hall
finished a neck behind Beat the Blues in fourth. Then came Maple Forest, Roman Treasure, It's Me Mom, and Winning Image.