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Awesome Maria Gets Up in Shuvee

Awesome Maria, who had won her two previous starts by a combined 12 ¾ lengths , defeated Absinthe Minded by a slim margin in a thrilling rendition of the Grade 2, $150,000 Shuvee Handicap for fillies and mares on Saturday at Belmont Park.

 

Off as the 2-5 favorite, Awesome Maria raced off the flank of Absinthe Minded in second as the pacesetter carved out fractions of 23.64, 47.38, and 1:11.44. The two fillies were put to a drive as they turned for home, and Awesome Maria gradually got her head in front of Absinthe Minded following a lengthy tussle.

 

“[Awesome Maria is] a game filly,” said winning jockey Javier Castellano. “She responded very well, and I’m very satisfied. It was a great performance. I could feel I had a lot of horse, and I think she wanted to be competitive with the other horse.”

 

Awesome Maria, who entered today’s race off victories at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 3 Sabin on February 19 and Grade 3 Rampart on April 2, completed the Shuvee’s one-mile distance in 1:35.19. The 4-year-old daughter of Maria’s Mon returned $2.90 to her backers in the Preakness day crowd of 9,088.

 

“It set up the way we expected on paper, but we didn’t expect the dog fight that ensued,” said Jonathan Thomas, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher. “It was a great race, and she showed a lot of grit. She’s a tough filly, and we have a lot of faith in her. The other filly [Absinthe Minded], in fairness, ran a huge race.”

 

Awesome Maria, an E. Paul Robsham Stables homebred, is now 6-3-1 from 11 starts. Her Shuvee victory, worth $90,000, pushed her career earnings to $692,375.

 

Spa City Princess was promoted to third following the disqualification of Happy Week, who was placed fourth. R Betty Graybull was fifth.

 

 

 

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