Favored Sweet Talker squeezed her way through an opening between horses in mid-stretch and was all out to hold off the determined spoiler Joint Aspiration by a head to win the $200,000 WinStar Distaff Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Lone Star Park turf Monday.
Graham Motion saddled Sweet Talker for just the second time after she was purchased at auction in November by Courtlandt Farms following the 4-year-old Stormin Fever
filly's win in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup by a nose at Keeneland a month earlier. In her first start for her new connections set a turf course record at Laurel of 1:34 for the mile in winning the Dahlia April 15.
There were no records Monday – the final time for the mile was 1:38 3/5 on yielding going – but Sweet Talker was ultra-game in notching her ninth lifetime win in 15 starts. She has won seven of nine on grass in her career and has never failed to finish in the top three.
Breaking from the inside post, Sweet Talker settled in behind the pacesetters for Ramon Dominguez. Paz Ciudadana, pressured by Lock And Key and Stela, staked fractions of :24, L48 4/5 and 1:13 1/5. Trapped along the inside nearing mid-stretch, Dominguez angled off the rail slightly to squeeze between the tiring Paz Ciudadana and Lock And Key and then battled to the line with Joint Aspiration, who closed with a rush for Julien Leparoux.
The late running Stretching loomed dangerously in the stretch on the far outside as well, but settled for third, two lengths behind.
Sweet Talker carried 120 pounds to victory, five more than the runner-up. Sweet Talker earned $120,000 to increase her bankroll to $838,723.
She paid $4.60, $3 and $2.80. Joint Aspiration, who was coming off a classified allowance win, returned $5.60 and $4.40. Stretching, who had a three-racing winning streak at Sam Houston broken, was $8.80 to show.
Paz Ciudadana finished fourth, followed by Lock And Key, Caviar Emptor, My Misty Princess, Katdogawn, Peaceful Love and Stela.
Katdogawn, last year's winner of this race on a yielding course, had a good position in midpack, but had to be urged by Aaron Gryder on the backstretch in order to keep. She gave in on the far turn.