Joseph V. Shield Jr.'s homebred House Party came from fifth on the turn to blow past her seven rivals for a sharp victory in Friday's $200,000 Prioress Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
Ridden by Jose Santos for trainer H. Allen Jerkens, the favored gray/roan daughter of French Deputy rallied from last early, splitting horses on the turn and swinging five wide in the stretch to defeat late-running Chimichurri by 3 1/4 lengths. Princess V., who led until the sixteenth pole, held on to third and survived a steward inquiry into the stretch run.
"We knew there was a lot of speed in there," said Santos. "On paper, the race set up perfectly for her. I worked her a few days ago and she worked great. I just wanted to keep her out of trouble. I could see there might be problems at the top of the stretch. I saw that a sixteenth of a mile before it happened. I just wanted to swing wide with her. She was much the best."
The Florid-bred House Party benefited from the cutback in distance from the one-mile Acorn (gr. I) on June 6, when she was fourth, to the six-furlong Prioress. The winning time was 1:09 2/5.
"That was a thrill," said Jerkens. "That kind of pace in front really helps her.
"She's done so well all year. I didn't think she should have been favored today, but I am glad they were right. Jose (Santos) rode her great. He gets along with her very well."
The most experienced filly in the field, House Party, winner of the seven-furlong Nassau County Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Belmont on May 10, posted her fifth win in 11 starts while earning $120,000. Her career bankroll now stands at $437,064. House Party has a 6-3-2-1 record at the six-furlong distance.
Princess V, with Jerry Bailey riding, posted fractions of :21 4/5, :44 3/5 and :56 4/5. Running on the inside in the stretch but slightly off the rail, longshot In Secure, ridden by Jorge Chavez, made a strong move on Prinvess V's inside but had to take up sharply when she ran out of room. Stewards ruled there was to be no change in the order of finish, however.
Meantime, House Party came with her explosive move to quickly take command to the wire. Chimichurri, with John Velazquez riding, came from well back to edge Princess V. by a half-length for the place.
"The post position (one) hurt us," Velazquez said. "She was buried down inside. Once I got her clear, she was really running hard. If we had a better post, she could have been outside and in the clear the entire race."
Wild Snitch, the 3-1 second choice, faded to last after racing after stumbling at the start and racing wide.
This is the second Prioress win for Hall of Fame trainer Jerkens. He won it in 1993 with Classy Mirage.
House Party paid $6.20, $3 and $2.60. Chimichurri returned $8.10 and $4.40. Princess V. showed for $3. The $2 exacta was worth $37.60.