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Sharp Irish Gypsy Faces Four in Honorable Miss

July 16, 2011.Irish Gypsy ridden by Martin Garcia, winning the A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, CA
A select field of older filly and mare sprinters will meet Sunday at the Spa to contest the 20th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Honorable Miss, run at six furlongs.

 

The six-furlong Honorable Miss will be broadcast live on VERSUS as part of the NBC Sports Group’s “Summer at Saratoga ” series. The telecast, which will run from 5-6 p.m., will also include the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.


 

Elder stateswoman in the field is Tar Heel Mom, a consistent 6-year-old daughter of Flatter who exits a pair of runner-up finishes in stakes at Delaware Park and Parx Racing.  In the Sweet and Sassy Stakes at Delaware on June 25, she pressed the pace but weakened in the stretch to finish 2 ½ lengths behind Eve Giselle. In the My Juliet at Parx on May 28, she dueled with Indian Legend through the stretch to miss by a nose at the wire.


 

Prior to those races, Tar Heel Mom had back-to-back victories, prevailing by 4 ½ lengths in the Nany overnight stakes at Belmont Park and by 3 ½ lengths in Gulfstream Park ’s Harmony Lodge Handicap.


 

“She’s had a little break since her last race and she’s doing great,” said Stan Hough, who trains the mare for Alex Rankin. “She’s had a little bleeding issue [throughout her career], but I’ve worked her and she’s showing no signs of it, so we’re hoping for a good race from her.”


 

Tar Heel Mom has turned in three breezes since her last start, most recently covering a half-mile over the main track in 47.36 on Monday. The Honorable Miss will be her first Saratoga appearance since a last of five finish in the Grade 1 Ballerina in 2009, a race in which she bled, according to Hough. With two wins from three starts in Saratoga and a 10-7-5 record from 27 career starts, Tar Heel Mom’s constancy has impressed her trainer.


 

“She’s great, she really is,” said Hough. “Except when there’s been outside interference, she really tries hard. She had a small condylar fracture behind last year and she came back so good from that, and she’s always been very sound other than that.”


 

Alex Solis, who rode Tar Heel Mom to two of her three victories this year, has the call aboard the 5-2 morning-line second choice from post position 3.


 

Shipping in to face Tar Heel Mom is Irish Gypsy, nose winner of the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 16, her third consecutive stakes score.  Racing mostly over synthetic surfaces in California , the 5-year-old Hennessy mare has one win and one runner-up finish from two starts on dirt.


 

“She’s bounced out of her last race really well,” said trainer Bob Baffert by telephone. “I sort of got talked into running by Angel Cordero – he says I can’t lose – but when they’re in the zone and doing well, you’ve got to run them.”


 

Irish Gypsy, running for Mike Pegram and John Sikura, drew the rail under John Velazquez and was made the 2-1 morning-line favorite and 121 pound highweight.


 

Seeking her first victory since last year’s Grade 1 Test is Southern Equine Stable’s Champagne d’Oro, most recently fifth in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap on July 9 at Calder. The race was her first start after a six-month layoff following a fourth-place effort in Santa Anita’s Grade 2 El Encino in January. The Medaglia d’Oro filly, who upset last year’s Grade 1 TVG Acorn at Belmont , made nine starts in 2010, including a fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.


 

“She was good enough last year, but by the time she had won the Test and gone back to California she was a tired horse,” said trainer Eric Guillot. “We freshened her up, and ran her at Calder in a Grade 1. She needed the race.”


 

In the Princess Rooney, Champagne d’Oro stalked the pace, loomed in midstretch, and flattened out late.


 

“She broke the bias,” said Guillot. “The track was drying out that day and the speed backed up. The horses that were 1-2-3 in front of her finished seventh, ninth, and 10th. She punched through at the eighth pole and looked like she was going to win, but she came up a little short. That race under her belt is going to make all the difference in the world.”


 

David Cohen, aboard in the Princess Rooney, has the return call aboard from post 4 at 7-2 on the morning line.


 

Completing the field are Beat the Blues, a 1 ½-length winner of the Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows on June 24 and Wild News, who wired the field to win a June 8 optional claimer at Belmont Park by 8 ½ lengths.


 

The field for the Grade 2, $150,000 Honorable Miss Handicap: 

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Irish Gypsy (KY)

J R Velazquez

121

B Baffert

2-1

2

Wild News (KY)

C C Lopez

115

J Parisella

6-1

3

Tar Heel Mom (KY)

A O Solis

118

S M Hough

5-2

4

Champagne d'Oro (KY)

D Cohen

119

E J Guillot

7-2

5

Beat the Blues (FL)

M Mena

116

W B Calhoun

7-2

 

 

 

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