Frank DiGiulio Jr.'s homebred Brass in Pocket staked her claim as the best filly or mare on the Woodbine grounds and a possible year-end Sovereign Award with a gutsy front-running victory in the $173,375 Seaway Stakes Sunday.With regular pilot David Clark aboard the 121-pound high weight, Brass in Pocket, after an awkward start, rushed up to hook the even money favorite Whiletheiron'shot through a quarter in 22.60 seconds, the half in :45.56.Then, as the field straightened for home in the seven-furlong feature, Brass in Pocket fended off all comers down the lane to win by a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths, in 1:24.45. Two-time defending Seaway champion El Prado Essence, who came through on the inside down the stretch, managed to nip Whiletheiron'shot for the place award. It was the fourth stakes win this year for the remarkably consistent, yet seemingly underrated 4-year-old daughter of Domasca Dan, who raced so prominently for the DiGiulio family and Woodbine's leading trainer, Bob Tiller in the late 1980's."She's (Brass in Pocket) just all heart, this mare," said Tiller. "I think she's the best mare around here right now. She just keeps trying, digs in and David rides her just beautifully. We're thrilled. We try to pick our spots with her. We wanted to win this wide-open (not restricted) race. She's tough to get by once she gets the lead. Her record speaks for herself."Unraced at 2, she won five of eight starts last year and has been victorious in four of five outings this year, all stakes. Now with career earnings in excess of $690,000, she's only been worse than third once in 13 starts, that in a distance stakes race last year. Her other added money wins this year came in the Whimsical, Ballade and Kamar.As the 2-1 second choice, Brass in Pocket earned $114,225 for the victory, returning $6.50, $3.60 and $2.10. She combined with El Prado Essence ($5.10, $3.00) for a $33.60 (2-6) exacta. Whiletheiron'shot ($2.10) completed a $66.10 trifecta
The Seaway was reduced to eight starters with the early morning scratches of Winter Garden and Sheila's Prospect.