Becky Winemiller's Wine Princess has progressed steadily through conditions in five starts for trainer Steve Margolis this year, and she took her career to the next level Aug. 11 with a wire-to-wire victory in the $100,000 Monmouth Oaks (gr. III) at Monmouth Park (VIDEO).
The 3-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper and the champion Jade Hunter mare Azeri got away with the lead in the 1 1/16-mile event for sophomore fillies and was rated well by Shaun Bridgmohan through a quarter in :24.51 and a half in :48.92.
"No matter where she is in the race, she always comes with a nice kick," Bridgmohan remarked. "She's a very smart filly and she knows what's going on. When the field came to her at the top of the stretch, I had to get her attention a little bit, but after that she just spurted away."
Although 8-5 favorite Morrow Cove loomed boldly while moving on the outside with Jemima's Pearl off the turn, she steadied and altered course when runner-up Proud Pearl drifted out in upper stretch, giving Wine Princess a chance to slip off by 2 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:44.11.
A jockey's objection by Paco Lopez, the rider of Morrow Cove, against jockey Joe Bravo on Proud Pearl, was dismissed.
Wine Princess, who has now won three of five starts with one second-place fininsh, was sent off as the 9-5 second choice and returned $5.60, $3.60, and $2.80. Proud Pearl returned $12.40 and $5.40, while Jemima's Pearl brought $2.60. Final Escrow, Morrow Cove, and Defy Gravity completed the order of finish.
The chestnut filly came into the Monmouth Oaks off a 2 1/2-length allowance score going a mile at Churchill Downs June 29. The $60,000 winner's share of the purse boosted her earnings to $138,238.
"We are thrilled," Margolis said. "She ran a tremendous race. We couldn't be more proud of her. Shaun knows her and he's worked her when she was in New Orleans. She was a little slow to come around, but with her pedigree we always knew that if she stayed healthy she had tons of potential."
Azeri was the 2002 Horse of the Year and Ghostzapper was Horse of the Year in 2004.
Wine Princess, Azeri's fourth of five foals to date, was bred in Kentucky by the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust. She was a $475,000 purchase from the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.