Golconda Stables' March X Press unleashed an explosive move in deep stretch during the Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 16 to pick up her second victory in as many starts, while also becoming the first black-type stakes winner for her freshman sire Shanghai Bobby .
The 2-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher was second-last of seven coming off the turn in the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint, with no clear path, but jockey Jose Ortiz guided March X Press through a narrow opening and the filly gamely charged through. Once in the open, she visibly shifted gears and flew home, scoring a half-length win in final time of 1:01.69 on firm turf.
March X Press won her debut Aug. 2 by a neck at the Spa, in a maiden special weight restricted to New York-breds at the same distance and surface.
"(She is) a very talented filly," Ortiz said. "She came back in two weeks and I was a little worried about it, but she was ready to run. She broke much better today, I was happy to see that. I went through a tight hole around the three-sixteenths pole but she's got a lot of heart, she made it through, and I think that's the point where we won the race."
Buy Sell Hold shot out of the gate, while March X Press got off to a slow start. Fairyland took over the lead but dueled throughout with Buy Sell Hold to set fractions of :21.79 and :44.15 for the first half-mile.
"There was a moment there where things got a little crowded and she showed a lot of bravery on her second start to push her way through there," Pletcher said. "She has an explosive turn of foot in that last part. She had to push her way through a little bit, and for a lightly raced filly to do that, it is impressive."
The Sept. 17 Natalma Stakes (G1T) at Woodbine could be next on the filly's agenda.
"I think maybe something like the Natalma, going a one-turn mile, is something that might make sense for her," Pletcher said.
Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, March X Press paid $6.80, $3.90, and $2.80 across the board, while Wesley Ward-trained Fairyland held on for the runner-up spot and paid $4.60 and $3.30. Pletcher's other entry, Sugar Queen, got up for third to pay $3.10.
Shanghai Bobby stood the 2017 season at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., for an advertised fee of $25,000. He has two other stakes-placed runners from his first crop.