R Free Roll Leads the Way in Honorable Miss
R Free Roll pulled a mild upset July 28 at Saratoga Race Course when shooting straight to the lead and holding firmly in the stretch to take the $200,000 HRTV Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) for filly and mare sprinters.
Making her first start for trainer Danny Gargan, R Free Roll won by 1 1/4 lengths from My Wandy's Girl and covered six furlongs on the main track in 1:10.12. The 4-year-old daughter of Rockport Harbor, off at 6-1 odds, notched her first graded stakes win and fifth stakes victory overall.
Ridden by Paco Lopez, R Free Roll outsprinted Merry Meadow and 6-5 favorite La Verdad to the lead and opened a clear advantage through an opening quarter-mile in :22.03. Merry Meadow drew to within a half-length through a half in :45.15, but R Free Roll brushed away the challenge and comfortably held off My Wandy's Girl, who rolled past tiring Merry Meadow in the stretch for second.
Merry Meadow finished another 1 1/4 lengths back in third in the six-horse field while La Verdad, the 119-pound co-highweight with My Wandy's Girl, saw her four-race win streak halted in a fifth-place finish after weakening in the drive.
"[Jockey] Jose [Ortiz] said she really didn't like the mud in her face," said trainer Linda Rice about La Verdad.
R Free Roll completed the distance in 1:10.12 over a sloppy, sealed main track, improving her overall record to 7-5-2 from 17 career starts for Averill Racing and Silver Oak Stable.
"I had a lot of horse and she ran really well today," Lopez said.
R Free Roll has bankrolled lifetime earnings of $495,854, including the $120,000 winner's share of the Honorable Miss purse. The Honorable Miss marked the second time the 4-year-old filly had ventured outside Florida, where she had won four stakes. She raced for trainer Ralph Ziadie for most of her career and was transferred to his son, Kirk Ziadie, for whom she won the U Can Do It Handicap on May 31 at Calder Race Course in her previous start.
"It's always fun when one comes in and they are doing this good," said Gargan, who enjoyed his first win at the Spa. "We've had her for about two weeks and we worked her once. Kirk pretty much told us everything that there is. It's nice having a coach like that--anyone can be the quarterback."
Gargan did not rule out the possibility of R Free Roll contesting the $500,000 Ballerina (gr. I) at seven furlongs Aug. 23 at Saratoga.
"It's obviously up to the owners where the next game is," said Gargan. "The way she ran today with this bunch, maybe. I don't think they were catching her late."
R Free Roll paid $15, $5.80, and $5.10 while My Wandy's Girl retuned $5.50 and $4.30. Merry Meadow brought $4.70 to show.
The multiple stakes-winning Acceptable mare Jewels N Gems is the dam of Florida-bred R Free Roll, a half sister to stakes-placed R Bling. R Free Roll was bred by co-owner Richard Averill.
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