Oprah Winney set a pressured pace while racing three wide under jockey Mike Smith, opened up a bit on the turn for home and held on through the stretch to prevail over the local star Silmaril, who had regular rider Ryan Fogelsonger aboard. The final time for the seven-furlong event was 1:24 4/5 on a fast track. The 4-year-old New York-bred daughter of Royal Academy won her third straight race – dating back to May 7 – all in front-running fashion.
Saddled by Anthony Dutrow for his brother, the suspended Richard Dutrow Jr., Oprah Winney set even fractions of :23 1/5 and :46 1/5 and proved impossible to catch as Smith simply showed the gray filly the whip close to home after she drifted in late.
"My only concern was that there was some other speed in the race," Smith said. "I was worried that they might press us a little and they did but she relaxed good for me. Going into the far turn I started to nudge away. When they came to me at the top of the lane, I just shook the reins at her and she responded and just dug right in. She was actually pulling away the last hundred yards.
"We weren’t sure if she’d get seven-eighths of a mile but I knew from her last race when I hit her in the mid-stretch she kind of resented the whip, so I thought maybe today if that situation comes up and I leave my stick down, she might finish better. It turned out to be the right move. I never had to touch her once.”
Silmaril, also coming off back-to-back victories, finished one length clear of Smart and Fancy and Jeremy Rose. Silmaril saved ground before coming under a ride on the turn and finished willingly after altering course inside of the eighth pole.
“It was a big effort,” said Fogelsonger. “It seemed there was enough pace for her to run down the speed. Through the lane I had some room to come up the rail and we were slowly getting there but she didn’t want to go through the hole so I had to angle her out. She came on again but we ran out of time.”
Leah's Secret, the slight 2-1 favorite in the eight-horse field under high weight of 118 pounds, finished fifth under Mark Guidry.
Oprah Winney tuned up for the Fritchie with a half-length win in the six-furlong Interborough Handicap on Aqueduct's inner track Jan. 1. Prior to that, she won the seven-furlong Bouwerie at Belmont Park May 7. Owned by S.J. Goldfarb, M. Dubb and Bunch of Characters Stable, Oprah Winney improved her career record to 5-2-2 in 10 starts. The winner's share of $180,000 increased the filly's earnings to $407,930.
Gatsas Throroughbreds LLC bred the winner, who is out of Mere Presence, by Woodman.
Sent off as the slight second choice, Oprah Winney paid $8.20, $4.60 and $3.60. Silmaril returned $3.80 and $2.60. Smart and Fancy, who was second to Oprah Winner in her last start, was $3.20 to show.
Then came Carmandia, Leah's Secret, Plata, Great Intentions and Dixie Marrone.
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