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Rafael Bejarano celebrates his win aboard Ginger Punch in the Go For Wand Handicap
The distaff divisions also competed on Whitney day as part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're in" program. Kicking off the stakes action on Whitney day was the $500,000 Diana Stakes (G1) for older fillies and mares. A field of eight went to post in this 1 1/8 mile event over the Mellon Turf Course, looking for an automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. New York Stakes winner Makderah was sent off as the 5-4 favorite over 3-1 My Typhoon, winner of the Just a Game and the Jenny Wiley. 8-1 Danzon rounded out the top three on the board, off a third place finish in the Mint Julep at Churchill Downs.
First time by in the Diana with Countess Scala out front and My Typhoon just behind.
11-1 shot Countess Scala took the lead entering the clubhouse turn and took a ground-saving path along the hedge as My Typhoon pulled up alongside her to press the pace through fractions of 23.43, 47.88, and 1:11.49. Makderah settled in fifth early, staying five wide throughout. Entering the stretch, My Typhoon poked her head in front and when asked by jockey Eddie Castro, opened up a 1 1/2 length lead. 9-1 Argentina, who was sixth early, rallied along the inside but was no match for My Typhoon, who easily held her off by 3/4 length to get the victory in 1:46.47 over the firm course. It was just 1/2 a length back to Makderah who also put in a good rally but was left with too much ground to make up late.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 My Typhoon Castro 8.10 4.70 2.80 7 Argentina Prado 7.60 3.90 4 Makderah Garcia 2.40 Winning Time: 1:46.47 $2 Exacta 5-7 59.00 $2 Trifecta 5-7-4 133.00
My Typhoon in the winner's circle with trainer Bill Mott on the far left. Mott said, "She settled nicely off the pace, and Eddie did a nice job of getting her to relax. It looked like they were going to run into her at the 1/4 pole; at the 1/8 pole, she gave it another little spurt and said see you later. She's in good form right now, and hopefully, that will continue for the rest of the year. Obviously, she has to stay healthy, but it is good to have a ticket (to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf). This was the race that we wanted to win. Everything else from here is gravy. I'm going to look at the calendar and see what's available for her."
My Typhoon returns after the race. Her jockey Eddie Castro said, "She ran very good. She had no problems relaxing. At the 1/2 mile pole, I started to ask her and she came with a real strong finish. I knew the horse was inside of me, but my horse is a fighter. She's a very nice horse."
Second place finisher Argentina in the post parade. Argentina was reserved for 6 furlongs, split rivals while entering the stretch under jockey Edgar Prado, found room along the hedge and finished well to get second place money. She improved her record to 2 wins, 5 seconds, and 3 thirds in 13 career starts with earnings of $624,897 for owner Stonerside Stable and trainer Bobby Frankel.
Third place finisher and beaten favorite Makderah returns after the race. Her trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "There were no excuses. We were in good position to try and make her run, and we were out-run in the end." Jockey Alan Garcia added, "The speed horse (My Typhoon) never stopped and my filly kept trying to the wire. I have the feeling that if my horse ran like she did last time, she would have won this stake."
The field breaks from the gate for the Go For Wand Handicap.
Teammate broke awkwardly but once she got into stride, was hustled to the front on the clubhouse turn and she set a slow early pace of 24.51, 48.84, and 1:12.86, while being stalked by favorite Ginger Punch the whole way. The pair was as many as 3 lengths clear of the rest of the field. Entering the stretch, Teammate faded from contention allowing Ginger Punch to inherit the lead. Jockey Rafael Bejarano asked her for run and got it, as Ginger Punch opened a 3 1/2 length lead in mid stretch and extended her advantage to 6 lengths at the line, completing the trip in 1:49.19. Late-running 7-1 shot Miss Shop put in a good rally to get second but was no match for the winner, finishing 2 1/4 lengths ahead of pacesetter Teammate in third. Ermine hit the gate at the start and showed no rally, finishing last.
Ginger Punch in the winner's circle. Her trainer Bobby Frankel said, "I had a little bit (of a concern about the distance). I thought she'd be all right because she's such an easy filly to ride. She relaxes behind any kind of pace. Usually if she goes easy the first part, she kicks in pretty hard the last part. She always was good we had to stop on her for what they call `chondroma' that were little pimples on her throat and we had to laser them off or eventually they'd block her airway. The Breeders' Cup is a long way away. You have to keep them sound. Strawberries today, jam tomorrow. Hopefully, I can keep her the way she is now and I'm sure she'll run in the Breeders' Cup." Frankel said Ginger Punch would use the Ruffian Handicap as her final prep for the Distaff.
Her jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "Mr. Frankel decided he wanted her in the race early. She was able to track Teammate. I had so much horse at the top of the stretch. I really asked her to run because I didn't want to wait for somebody else to come along. I think she is the best horse in the division."
Second place finisher Miss Shop returns after the race. Her jockey Javier Castellano said, "We got a beautiful trip today. She ran good today, but she was just second best. The winner was much the best. My filly ran as good as I could ask for."
Third place finisher Teammate in the paddock. After a poor start, Teammate sprinted clear on the first turn to set the pace under jockey Cornelio Velasquez but steadily tired in the lane to finish third. She improved her career record to 4 wins, 5 seconds and 2 thirds in 18 starts with earnings of $526,276 for owner Joseph Allen and trainer Allen Jerkens.
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