The way the ground has been on the Pimlico Race Course grass during the ongoing rainstorm that has been Preakness Stakes (G1) week, it's been pretty clear during races who gets a hold of the heavy surface and who does not.
With an ideal stalking trip under jockey Jose Ortiz, the 5-year-old Uncle Mo mare took command in the second turn and broke away from the toiling field as early leader Stallion Heiress tired harshly. At the furlong pole, the gap between Ultra Brat and eventual second-place finisher Blessed Silence was 4 1/2 lengths, and she extended it to 10 1/4 lengths at the wire to finish off the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:53.72 on turf labeled soft.
"I was worried about running (on the turf). It's so tiring," said winning trainer Graham Motion. "I can't exactly imagine the difference to running on this kind of turf and running on firm turf. None of us really knew how she would handle it, but obviously she handled it well."
Stallion Heiress led the field through the first half-mile, with fractions of :25.12 and :51.56, before Ultra Brat took over to run six furlongs in 1:18.60 and a mile in 1:46.50.
"She relaxed well, and that was the most important thing," Ortiz said. "Because she can be a little high strung, like in the post parade. From the three-eighths pole I tested her to see if she was going to go. I showed her the whip a little bit, and she jumped in the bit beautifully.
"I let her go on. I knew nobody would gain a lot of ground, so I wanted to make the first move."
Blessed Silence, who won multiple races on soft ground in France before she was relocated to North America for her 2018 racing season, held second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Brooks House. Favored Elysea's World and Stallion Heiress completed the order of finish. Lake Ponchatrain was eased in the stretch by jockey Arnaldo Bocachica.
"It didn't look like she handled the ground," said Chad Brown, trainer of Elysea's World, who won the Suwannee River Stakes (G3T) last time out Feb. 10 at Gulfstream Park. "It's part of horse racing. Everyone ran over the same ground today. For this filly, today it didn't seem to work for us."
Bred in Kentucky out of the Storm Cat mare Prof. McGonagall, Ultra Brat has a 6-1-1 record from 14 starts and $378,299 in earnings. She earned her first graded win Jan. 13 in the Marshua's River Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream.