Forever Liesl, Antonio Gallardo up, shown winning the 9th race at Monmouth Park on Saturday. EQUI-PHOTO/BILL DENVER.
By John Manley
The Michelle Nevin barn came out smoking last week, winning four races at three venues, including two by first-time starters. The newbies won their races within 30 minutes of each other on Friday. Jay Em Ess Stable’s Fallinginloveagain took the second race at Pimlico. As a Maryland bred, the 4-year-old colt was able to test this maiden claiming route without the risk of being claimed. He tracked the early pace under Edgar Prado and surged late to tally by just over a length. He returned $9.80 to win.
Shortly thereafter, Joan Kalina’s Pumpernickel Basil was a prompt winner in Belmont Park’s second race, a maiden claiming sprint. Rajiv Maragh, back from California, had the 3-year-old filly involved throughout and got her up by one and one-half lengths. She paid $7.10 to win.
Later on that same Belmont card, Nevin got a win out of her own Factoring. She acquired this 4-year-old filly from Anthony Dutrow late last year and broke her maiden in late January at Aqueduct. Unraced since then, Factoring tried a turf sprint against $40,000 claiming stock and was up to the task despite a rocky beginning, toughing out a photo finish under John Velazquez. She paid $7.70 to win.
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Then it was down to the Jersey Shore on Saturday for the fourth of Nevin’s victories. Kallenberg Farm’s Forever Liesl, a 4-year-old filly, had been something of a bridesmaid since breaking her maiden at second asking on New Year’s Eve of 2016, but she dominated a field of first-level allowance routers at Monmouth Park. Antonio Gallardo got her to the wire four lengths in front for a four-length triumph that yielded a $4.80 win mutual.
One race that didn’t go Nevin’s way was the Runhappy Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday. Skyler’s Scramjet and Trevor McCarthy were unable to close the gap on Godolphin’s Westwood, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. The latter prevailed by three-quarters of a length with Velazquez along for the ride. They paid $7.40 to win and combined for a $16.60 exacta with Nevin’s gelding, which went off as the odds-on favorite.
On Friday at Belmont, Derek Ryan ended a munificent relationship with Believe Indeed, the 5-year-old mare that he claimed last summer at Saratoga off Bruce Levine for Tom Cullen and Daniel McKillop. Ryan needed a few races to get a line on the mare, but when he did she was almost as good as a money tree. She managed three wins and three second-place finishes from her last eight races, most of which were at Tampa Bay Downs. Slotted at the same $25,000 tier at which she was claimed last summer, Believe Indeed was resolute down the lane under Javier Castellano and scored by three-quarters of a length. She paid $6.30 to win. The trainer who claimed Believe Indeed off Ryan? Bruce Levine.
MAGEE HOT AT PIMLICO
Kieron Magee stables at Pimlico, so the short three-week stint in Baltimore gives the Wicklow native a shot to revel without the fuss and bother of shipping. He had four wins at Pimlico last week, beginning with Super C Racing’s Clare’s Dowery in Thursday’s third race, a starter mile on the lawn. The winner, a 5-year-old mare, was the only runner among the 11 that left the gate not to have been administered Lasix. She won a four-way photo with Julien Pimentel in the irons for her second straight victory. She paid $11.80 to win.
Magee had a two-bagger on Friday, starting with Super C’s Holy Scat in the third race, a claiming route on the turf for $7,500 claiming stock. The 6-year-old mare only nibbled at purses without a win in five tries for Magee after he claimed her last June. She was given the winter off and came back all fired up. She won by four lengths with the aid of Rosario Montanez. The win mutual came back $16.40.
Later on the program, Magee got a win out of Gumpster Stable’s Expect Indy, a 5-year-old mare now in her second tour of duty with the trainer. She and Pimentel were never far out of the mix in this starter allowance route and gutted out a half-length victory, good for a $7.80 win mutual.
Victory number four came in Saturday’s ninth race, another starter allowance route, at Pimlico, Robert Beck’s Dazzling Okie, an 8-year-old gelding, has been doing most his racing under the lights at Charles Town of late, but this spot more than suited him as he and Daniel Centeno shook away to score by 11 lengths. Dazzling Okie finished fourth in his first race off the claim for Magee last summer, but in 10 races since then has been no worse than third, while pulling down four wins. He paid $5.80 here.
Fergal Lynch rode a triple at Pimlico on Sunday, booting home three favorites. First in was Unlucky Hillary in the fourth race. He closed from well back on this filly for Francis Abbott, which had been racing in southern California. She paid $3.80 to win. Lynch and Wild Dreams prevailed in an early speed duel in the sixth race, and went on to tally by six lengths. The Hugh McMahon trainee paid $4.00 to win. Lynch’s reputation as the go-to rider among New York trainers was reasserted when he won aboard Mo Smart for Todd Pletcher in the ninth race. They tracked the early pace, made a move around the far turn and stole away to score by 13 lengths. The win mutuel came back $2.60.
Animosity, a 3-year-old filly that Pat Gallagher trains for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, remained perfect in two starts by winning the sixth race at Golden Gate Fields on Friday. She took a long, early lead in this first-level allowance route on the main track, allowed the posse to close in on her and then gave them the slip down the lane to score by almost four lengths. Ricardo Gonzalez had the mount on Animosity, which paid $7.80 to win.