The Chad Brown-trained Off Limits came into the 1 1/16-miles Athenia off a win in the Noble Damsel Stakes (G3T) where she bested grade 1 winners Time and Motion and Celestine. The 5-year-old Mastercraftsman mare broke from post 7 Saturday and settled in midpack as Juno took early control of the 10-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in :24.52 and a half-mile in :48.79.
With Joel Rosario in the saddle, Off Limits began picking off rivals through the far turn and hit the front near the eighth pole. Despite a swarm of rivals coming on late, she held under a vigorous hand ride to cover the distance in 1:41.73 over a course rated firm.
"The pace was kind of slow so it was just about timing the right move to go to the front," Rosario said. "You can see when she goes to the lead she likes to wait for horses. When you ride a horse for the second time, you learn a little bit more and it was a different race from the last time, but I was confident she was the best horse in here today. She was very relaxed and handled the distance with no problem."
The win was the third in a row for Off Limits, following an optional claiming win in August at Saratoga Race Course and her 4 3/4-length victory in the Noble Damsel. Purchased by Martin Schwartz as a 3-year-old and transferred to Brown, Off Limits was winless in her 4-year-old campaign and was turned out in September of 2016. She returned with a 1 1/2-length allowance win in June and boasts an overall record of six wins from 16 starts with lifetime earnings of $454,680.
"We gave her time off and Mr. Schwartz purchased this filly and gave it to me and we got in a groove with her," said Brown. "She never quite looked right in her coat. She trained a little better than she was running, and it was frustrating. We got together and decided to give her an extended vacation and let her acclimate over here. He is always very patient with his horses and does the right thing with them, and she's the perfect example of that."
Elysea's World secured third by a nose over Penjade, both also trained by Brown. Time and Motion was fifth, followed by Puca, Westit, Decked Out, Queen Caroline, and Juno to complete the order of finish.
Off Limits was bred by Carlingford Breeding Syndicate and is out of the Efisio (GB) mare Ravish (GB).