In the first 13 days
of the Saratoga Race Course meet, no horse has run an opening quarter-mile as
fast as It’s Me Mom, who left the crowd gasping Friday when the first
call of the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap was posted in 21.14
Yet the first half of one of Murphy’s Laws states, “The
race is not always to the swiftest,” and Eric Fein’s C C’s Pal surged past It’s Me Mom and the other exhausted front-runners in the
stretch to win the 21st running of the six-furlong sprint stakes
race for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up.
C C’s Pal, a 5-year-old mare trained by Richard Dutrow, Jr., won
the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap on June 2 when racing on the lead. Rocketing out
of the gate in the Honorable Miss with the speedballs It’s Me Mom,
Winning Image and Roman Treasure, however, would have been a recipe for
In fact, those three runners, who blazed through a half-mile in 43.78,
were the final three runners to cross the finish line.
Ridden by Junior Alvarado, C C’s Pal broke fast – but not
too fast – at the start and then moved to the inside to cut the corner
turning for home.
“It was awful quick up front,” Dutrow said in the
winner’s circle. “We wanted to save ground around the turn. She can
lead, stalk … she fired another bullet. The instructions [to jockey
Junior Alvarado] were outrun the inside horses, save ground around the turn and
find a seam turning for home.”
The inside horses – Island Bound and Belle of the Hall –
were the two Dutrow figured also would benefit from a pace meltdown.
On the turn for home, Maple
Forest beat C C’s
Pal to an open position, and the eventual winner also was blocked behind a
tiring Winning Image. Alvarado quickly shifted his mount to the outside, and C
C’s Pal surged under right-handed urging with about a furlong to go.
Island Bound, who raced in the rear the first part of the race, rallied wide on
the turn and closed fast in the lane to miss by a neck.
Beat the Blues finished third, followed by Belle of the Hall, Maple Forest,
Roman Treasure, It’s Me Mom and Winning Image.
C C’s Pal ran the six furlongs in 1:09.88 for the ninth win of
her 31-race career. She has six stakes victories overall, two of them graded.
The $120,000 purse for winning the Honorable Miss pushed her lifetime earnings
As the 3-1 second betting choice, C C’s Pal returned $8.50 for a
$2 win bet.
“My filly has enough speed to be close if they are going slow, or
if they’re going fast I know I’ll be in a good spot,”
Alvarado said. “That’s pretty much what happened. They went real,
real fast, and I was in a nice spot saving ground. She really gave me a nice
kick at the end.”