Lady of the Future Takes Penny Memorial

(from Philadelphia Park report)
Max Pearson's Lady of the Future won the $100,000 James Penny Memorial Handicap by the narrowest of noses following a stirring stretch duel with My Glare Farm's Where We Left Off Saturday at Philadelphia Park.

The 6-year-old Eastern Echo mare completed the ninth win of her career in 1:43 4/5 for the 1 1/16-mile turf test for fillies and mares and pushed her earnings over $410,000.

Ten went postward with Where We Left Off sent off as a 9-5 betting favorite. Breaking from the outside gate, Lady of the Future made no attempt to get up into the early action. Instead, jockey Harry Vega did all her could to get the late running filly into a ground saving position into the first turn.

"I wanted to get over as smoothly as I could," said Vega. "I also wanted to try and make sure I didn't get too far behind."

Heading to the backstretch, Vega guided his mount into the clear outside of horses and began to make steady progress toward the leaders who had run the opening half mile over a firm course in :48.3.

"They told me she really had a great 3/8th's run," continued Vega. "When I saw the leaders starting to bunch up, I didn't want to get caught in traffic up the inside, so I kept her in the clear."

She was four wide to the far turn, but when they reached the 3/8th's pole and Vega called for her best, Lady of the Future responded. She circled up into contention in the middle of the course while Where We Left Off was finally breaking into the clear after getting caught in behind horses approaching the head of the stretch. The two were right together for most of the last furlong and hit the wire as dead even as it gets. The photo was one of those where it seems you could barely fit a credit card between the horses' nose and the wire, but Lady of the Future had prevailed.

While Where We Left Off circled outside the winners circle with jockey Jean-Luc Samyn still aboard, Vega had jumped off his mare, the usual sign of defeat. "You almost always know when you've lost," said Vega. "I was pretty confident I had won. I got off because I didn't want to jinx myself."

Thomas M. Greene trains the winner.

Dismissed a bit at the windows, Lady of the Future slipped off at 8-1 and returned $19.20, 5.60, and 3.60. Where We Left Off was a heart-broken second, as the 9-5 favorite, and paid 3.40 and 2.60. Caught in the Rain, third choice at 4-1 and, paid 2.60 to show.