My Wandy's Girl takes the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park.

My Wandy's Girl takes the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park.

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

My Wandy's Girl Fights for Fritchie Score

Flower Alley mare began career in Puerto Rico, gets graded victory in 2014 debut.

My Wandy's Girl missed taking last year's edition of the Barbara Fritchie (gr. II) by three-quarters of a length at Laurel Park, but this season she would not be denied.

The 5-year-old Flower Alley mare who began her career in Puerto Rico, aced her season debut Feb. 22 at the Maryland oval, digging in deep under jockey Rajiv Maragh to wear down pacesetter La Verdad while holding off favored Centrique (VIDEO).

"She kept on trying hard and it was a very competitve race with one to my inside and one to my outside," Maragh said. "You have to give her a lot of credit; she showed a lot of guts and held them all off."

My Wandy's Girl, making her first start of 2014 for trainer Michael Hushion and her second outing off a seven-month layup, broke well from post 4 as the 119-pound highweight in the seven-furlong event for older fillies and mares. She raced up to engage the speedy La Verdad for the pace, then kept company outside that rival through a quarter in :22.95 and a half in :45.64 as La Verdad held her advantage.

The eventual winner appeared ready to be outfinished when La Verdad fanned her four wide while swinging off the turn for home. Maragh, however, kept to work on his mount through three-quarters in 1:10.59, and she responded down the center of the track with a valliant surge to win by a length in 1:23.79 on a fast track. La Verdad just held over Centrique for second, while Merry Meadow, Access to Charlie, Flattering Bea, and Baragah completed the order of finish.  

"I wanted to be as close (to the pace) as I could without overdoing it," Maragh said. "When I was up close to the pace I wasn't going to take it away from her. She was doing it well within herself."

My Wandy's Girl returned $7.20, $4, and $3. La Verdad paid $3.40 and $2.30. Centrique paid $2.60.

Bred in Kentucky by PHW Equine Investments out of the Unbridled's Song mare Unbridled Secret, My Wandy's Girl was purchased by owner Guillermo Berrios for $15,000 from the 2011 Ocala Breeders Sales Co.'s March sale of 2-year-olds in training when consigned by De Meric Sales. She won 13 races in Puerto Rico, including two grade I events, and eight of those victories were part of a winning streak she preserved when she arrived in New York to take the Nov. 15 Pentelis Stakes at Aqeduct Racetrack in 2012.

"She was doing very good in Puerto Rico, so I thought it would be good to come over here and face the good ones, and here we are, winning the good ones," Berrios said.

The chestnut mare had just one recent start under her belt, a fifth in the Dec. 17 Garland of Roses Stakes at Aqueduct. She had been on the sidelines since a second by three-quarters of a length in the 2013 Ruffian Handicap (gr. II) last April 6, that following her Fritchie second which was preceded by a third in the Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) behind Dance Card and Sea Island. She ran that Nov. 24 race just one week after her Pentelis score.

The Fritchie victory improves the record of My Wandy's Girl to 15-4-2 from 23 starts, with earnings of $573,710.