Under Irad Ortiz Jr., 4-year-old Teen Pauline took the lead coming out of the gate and never looked back as she cruised to an easy 4 3/4-length victory over three opponents in the $95,000 Affectionately for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the inner track (VIDEO).
A few races later, Lion D N A, with C.C. Lopez aboard, ran down Baby J and Fantasy of Flight in deep stretch to capture the $98,000 Interborough Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs by half a length on the inner dirt. Five-year-old Lion D N A was making her stakes debut.
Teen Pauline set soft fractions of :24.49, :49.21, and 1:14.04 with Street Secret, Centring, and Royal Lahaina in pursuit. Edging away on the far turn, the 4-year-old Tapit filly swung into the stretch with a 3 1/2-length lead and was never challenged while timed in 1:45.64 on a fast track.
"She was supposed to be on the lead; she broke good and I got the lead easily," Ortiz said. "She relaxed pretty good and was ready today. I just tried to wait as long as I could because she was very relaxed the whole way. When I asked her, she picked it up. I was just the passenger today."
Favored Centring (6-5) closed to finish second under Rajiv Maragh, followed by Royal Lahaina and Street Secret. Welcome Guest was scratched.
The victory was the first in a stakes for Teen Pauline, a Stonestreet Stable homebred who set a Saratoga Race Course track record of :56.53 for five furlongs in her 2-year-old debut. She finished fourth in her first two starts of 2013 after being moved to trainer Todd Pletcher, and then posted a record of 1-1-1 in three starts on the turf.
Switched back to dirt, she finished third in the Comely Stakes (gr. III) Nov. 30 at Aqueduct in her most recent start.
Teen Pauline, out of the Carson City mare Effectual, returned $8 and $3.20. Overall, she is 3-1-3 from nine starts and has amassed $281,300. Centring paid $2.50. There was no show wagering.
In the Interborough, Lion D N A was able to get a clean stalking trip in third toward the inside behind 123-pound top weight Baby J, who led Fantasy of Flight through fractions of :23.30 and :46.86. As the field of five approached mid-stretch, Lion D N A closed in readily when asked by Lopez while three-wide. They got the lead in the final 70 yards or so to score by half a length in 1:11.88 (VIDEO).
"We got off just OK," Lopez said. "I was quickly outrun, so I said, 'All right, there's only five horses. I'll just bide my time, stay on the fence and hope to work out a trip.' When I came off the elbow, I eased out, and she came running."
Fantasy of Flight, ridden by Ortiz, took the runner-up spot by half a length over Baby J and Cornelio Velasquez. Delightful Quality, the 8-5 choice, rallied mildly in the stretch for fourth, and Miss Mischief trailed. Five Star Momma and P J's Superego scratched.
Lion D N A was the 5-2 second choice while toting 116 pounds. The bay mare is a daughter of Lion Heart–Too Many Holes, by Touch Gold, trained by Rudy Rodriguez for Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Gary Aisquith. Pat Greco bred the winner in Illinois.
She was claimed by her current connections for $35,000 out of a third-place finish in an allowance/optional claiming race Aug. 30 at Saratoga.
"(The owners) liked the way she looked. Gary Aisquith called me last night and said the filly had a very good chance. All the credit goes to them," Rodriguez said after his third win on the card. "She's a nice filly. We got lucky."
The victory was the seventh in 27 tries for Lion D N A, who was coming off a victory in a starter allowance/optional claiming event Dec. 13 at Aqueduct. She has banked $275,898 in her career.
The winner paid $7.90, $4.20, and $3.20. Fantasy of Flight returned $4.90 and $3.20. Baby J paid $3.40.