Two daughters of Tapit — Pretty City Dancer and Sweet Loretta—hooked up in midstretch in the $350,000 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 3 at Saratoga Race Course and battled to a dead heat in 1:24.18 on a fast track.
The co-winners were the only two stakes winners in the seven-horse field. Sweet Loretta came into the race off a 4 1/4-length victory in the Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III), while Pretty City Dancer's last race produced a 3 1/4-length victory in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Sweet Loretta is owned by Vincent and Teresa Viola's St. Elias Stable. The filly sold for $750,000 to Roma Farm, through agent J.J. Crupi, at the 2014 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Ashview Farm, which bred Sweet Loretta in partnership with Colts Neck Stables, consigned her to the sale. Sweet Loretta is trained by Todd Pletcher and was ridden by Javier Castellano.
Pretty City Dancer was bred by Gainesway, where Tapit stands, and sold the filly for $825,000 through the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale to owner John Oxley. The filly is trained by Mark Casse and was ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Runaway Doll, who last won by 13 1/2 lengths in a sloppy $83,000 maiden special weight, hooked up with Cherry Lodge early and together they led the field through opening fractions of :22.89 and :45.81. Coming out of the turn, Sweet Loretta, who had been stalking in third, passed the pacesetters, while Pretty City Dancer was coming wide on the outside. Running with her head cocked to the outside kept Pretty City Dancer just back of Sweet Loretta until a few strides from the wire when she straightened out and drove to the dead heat. Cherry Lodge finished 5 3/4 lengths back in third.
There was some bumping between the co-winners, which resulted in a steward's inquiry but no action was taken.
"I hit her left-handed and she drifted just a little bit and the other filly (Pretty City Dancer) came over and brushed up a little bit right on the wire," said Castellano. "I knew it wasn't going to affect anything but I was very lucky to hold onto the dead-heat. She is a nice filly and she will move forward."
Casse said he though Pretty City Dancer would win it and then she "laid in" midstretch.
"I never really saw the head-on, but I thought we won and then I thought we got beat," he said. "Then I met up with Todd and he said, 'Will you take a dead-heat?' and I said, 'I'll take a dead heat.' So that's what we got."
Pletcher said the race reminded him of one from previous day.
"We had a filly in with (one of trainer) Mark Casse's, and they exchanged bumps pretty good," he said. "I figured if they didn't change that one, they're not going to change this one, especially with a dead heat. It was a big effort from both fillies."
Pletcher, who also trained Cherry Lodge for Gainesway, said the filly fought jockey John Velazquez a bit and just got tired at the end.
"She kind of spread-eagled at the start and got up and got a little headstrong. I think (experience) is key. Today, the two most seasoned horses were one-two. You kind of saw that trend throughout the day. There's no substitute for experience."
Sweet Loretta paid $4.90, $4.60, and $2.80. Pretty City Dancer paid $5.60, $5.10, and $2.90. Even-money favorite Cherry Lodge paid $2.10. The $2 exacta paid $21.60. The $2 trifecta paid $56.