Jockey Edgar Prado gave trainer Randy Schulhofer a few anxious moments Thursday afternoon, and then he gave Arthur B. Hancock's Owsley a fearless, weaving ride through the lane that was enough to produce a neck victory over favored Volga in the 59th running of the grade II, $250,000 New York Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on Belmont Park's inner turf.
Before an Independence Day crowd of 18,609, Owsley recorded the first New York stakes victory for the 40-year-old Schulhofer, who served for years as assistant to his father, Hall of Fame trainer Flint 'Scotty" Schulhofer. The elder Schulhofer retired Dec. 31, 2001.
Mot Juste set the early pace of :23 3/5 and :48 on the firm inner turf course, where the rail was out 18 feet. Janet then took the lead from Five Fishes as Volga came with her run.Prado, meanwhile, had kept Owsley covered along the rail and it looked like that was where he was going to stay. But Prado found enough room between horses and once he got Owsley clear, she did the rest. The 4-year-old Harlan filly lengthened her stride and got up for the win in 1:59 4/5. She returned $10.20 for her fifth win in 14 starts."I pretty much had cover the whole way," Pardon said. "It was a little tight at the top of the stretch and I didn't have much room. We had traffic through the stretch drive and I was like, `Come on guys, let me out.' Once she was clear, she really kicked in."Schulhofer had it a little tougher."Before the eighth-pole, I was beside myself," Schulhofer said. "I had my head buried until she got out. And then (Prado) finally got her out and she finished strong. It looked like she clipped heels a little bit at the top of the stretch; she really didn't have anywhere to go. Today is the best she's done. I just hope she continues on this path. This win opens up a lot of options for us."Schulhofer said he might point for the grade I, $700,000 Beverly D. at Arlington Park on Aug. 17. "The races at Saratoga would fit her also," Schulhofer said.Janet ran third, one length behind Volga. It was another length back to Sunstone in fourth. Tweedside, Five Fishes and Mot Juste completed the order of finish. Unbridled Vice was scratched.