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Off the Tracks takes her walk down Victory Lane after winning the Mother Goose Stakes.
The feature race on Saturday at Belmont Park was the $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes (G1), a 1 1/16 mile main track test for 3-year-old fillies. A field of 7 went to post under cloudy skies with teperatures in the high 70's. Kentucky Oaks (G1) 6th place finisher Rachel's Valentina was the 8-5 favorite, winless since last year's Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga. In to challenge her included 9-4 second choice Lewis Bay, winner of the Gazelle (G2) before third in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), and 3-1 third choice Off the Tracks, second in the Acorn (G1) last out.
Off the Tracks draws away in the stretch
Previous winners of the Mother Goose
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Off the Tracks Ortiz 8.10 3.60 2.70 5 Lewis Bay Ortiz Jr. 3.10 2.60 7 Lightstream Rosario 2.90 Winning Time: 1:41.01 $2 Exacta 2-5 24.80 $2 Trifecta 2-5-7 90.50 $2 Superfecta 2-5-7-4 382.00
Left: Off the Tracks in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We're just trying to figure out how we thought the race would unfold. We weren't positive what a couple horses would do but we felt that if she got a clean break there was a decent chance that she would be on the lead, so that was plan A with her. Even though the fractions were very fast, the track seems to be playing pretty fast today, so I was a little concerned going as fast as they were, but she seemed to be doing it comfortably and in good rhythm. I was happy to see her have something left to finish."
Right: Off the Tracks heads back to the barn after the race.
Left: Off the Tracks heads into the paddock.
Right: Off the Tracks in the post parade. Winning jockey Jose Ortiz said, "She broke good and was very alert. We went a bit fast but she wasn't pushed all the way to do that. She was relaxed and did it by herself. She was in a good rhythm. As we passed the 3/8 pole, she gave me a lot of confidence to go on. She responded very well."
Left: Second place finisher Lewis Bay heads out of the paddock. Trainer Chad Brown said, "It's disappointing. She was sitting there loaded the whole way, I thought when she tipped out she'd go right by that horse and she just ran even down the lane. She got a good trip, and she looked like a winner every step of the way until she just flattened out in the middle of the stretch.
Right: Third place finisher Lightstream in the post parade. The 4-1 fourth choice was unhurried 6th 4 lengths off the pace under Joel Rosario, then passed tired horses to get third beaten 4 1/2 lengths. The Brian Lynch trainee improved her record to 3 wins and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $207,000 for owners Up Hill Stable and Head of Plains Partners LLC.
Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Rachel's Valentina in the paddock. Jockey John Velazquez said, "We thought the race set up perfect with speed in front of us. It just didn't happen. The speed was in the lead and kept running, so there aren't any excuses for the horses from behind. She wasn't trying for whatever reason. Everything felt well. She didn't want to do it, I guess. It's strange." Trainer Todd Pletcher added, "I really don't have a great explanation. It looked like she was in a decent spot, but Johnny seemed like he had to start asking her for a lot earlier than you would expect him to. We'll see how she comes out of it and try to regroup."
Immediately before the Mother Goose, a field of 6 older fillies and mares went 1 mile on the Widener turf in the $100,000 Perfect Sting Stakes. Last year's Commonwealth Oaks (G3) winner Onus was sent off as the 3-5 favorite off an allowance win, over 3-1 second choice Neck of the Moon, 3rd in the Mount Vernon, and 7-1 third choice Mississippi Delta, second in the Nassau (G2) before 6th in the Intercontinental.
28-1 longest shot Old Harbor was quickest away through fractions of 24.47, 49.32, and 1:13.09 over the firm course while pressed by Onus and stalked by Neck of the Moon. Entering the stretch Old Harbor faded to last as Neck of the Moon inherited the lead at the 1/8 pole, but 15-1 My Sweet Girl, last for the first 5/8, rallied down the center of the course to win by a neck in 1:35.75. It was another 3/4 length back to favorite Onus third.
Full results chart
Previous winners of the Perfect Sting Stakes.
Left: My Sweet Girl in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Barclay Tagg said, "I was little concerned about the break. I wanted her covered up a little bit, but I didn't particularly want her way back there. I thought the track's been too fast for her to come back. I was afraid when I saw her way back there that she might not be able to get up, because the speed's not going to come back, but it all worked out. The kid rode her beautifully and I was very happy with it. I've always like the filly. She's got a lot of talent. We just had to find what suited her the best. We've tried her long distance, short distance, dirt, turf, mud, everything. She's always showed a lot of talent and this just worked out perfectly today."
Right: My Sweet Girl in the paddock. Winning jockey Manuel Franco said, "She ran great. I love the way she runs. She's real responsive. I was just following instructions. The trainer told me to be patient with her and that's what I did. She gave me a good move and when I was asking, she was there for me."
Left: Second place finisher Neck of the Moon in the post parade under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. The Chad Brown trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 5 seconds, and 6 thirds in 18 starts, earning $319,745 for owner Hidden Brook Farm.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Onus in the paddock before the race. The Shug McGaughey trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 9 starts, earning $202,406 for owner-breeder Stuart Janney III.
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