Assateague dominated seven fillies and mares in the $200,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT), leading all the way en route to her first graded stakes win July 8 at Parx Racing (WATCH VIDEO).
A homebred belonging to Helen Alexander, Helen Groves and Dorothy Matz, Assateague snapped a five-race winless stretch for trainer Michael Matz with her 2 1/4-length score. Game Fair, at 39-1 odds, drove between horses in the stretch to take second, with Alaura Michele finishing third, a neck back.
A 5-year-old daughter of Stormy Atlantic , Assateague was timed in 1:40.74 for 1 1/16 miles on turf rated firm. The victory, at 2-1 odds, was her first since earning a breakthrough stakes last August in the one-mile De La Rose at Saratoga Race Course.
Breaking from post three with Joel Rosario in the James Penny Memorial, Assateague was quick to the front and carved out fractions of 23:66, :47.67 and 1:11.10 through six furlongs with Nellie Cashman chasing a half-length back and Alaura Michele in close pursuit. Jockey Angel Serpa positioned Game Fair in fifth, saving ground.
Maintaining her advantage approaching the home turn with the mile going in 1:34.69, Assateague opened two-length lead in stretch and ran on under strong handling for the win. Responding on cue from Serpa, Game Fair spurted from fifth in early stretch and charged between Alaura Michele and tiring Nellie Cashman, snatching the runner-up spot from Alaura Michele.
Effie Trinket, the slight 2-1 favorite, was never in contention and finished sixth.
Kentucky-bred Assateague has a 5-2-2 from 18 career starts that includes a pair of stakes-placings at Belmont Park in 2012 and 2013. In her most recent outing, she was fourth behind winner Free as a Bird in the seven-furlong Intercontinental Stakes June 8 at Belmont, a race in which Alaura Michele was third.
The $120,000 winner's share of the James Penny Memorial purse boosted Assateague's career bankroll to $398,059.
Assateague is the second graded stakes winner produced from the Dixieland Band mare Amelia. From the extended family of champion filly Althea and this year's Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) winner and former classic starter Bayern, she is a half sister to 2012 Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) winner Kindergarden Kid (by Dynaformer), who was third in that season's Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont. Her Tapit half brother He's Had Enough, bred by the same connections, was second in the 2012 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).