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Vagrancy: C C's Pal Nips Nicole H

Fighting back along the rail after losing the lead in deep stretch, C C’s Pal put away favored Nicole H in the final jumps Saturday afternoon to take the 62nd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park by a neck.

 

Sent right to the front by jockey Junior Alvarado, C C’s Pal was able to set unpressured fractions of 23.55 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.07 for the half before Nicole H began moving up on the turn. Once straightened for home, Nicole H charged up on the outside and stuck a nose in front with 110 yards to go, only to relinquish the lead to the game C C’s Pal in the final strides.

 

Her winning time for the 6 ½ furlongs was 1:16.10.

 

“At the sixteenth pole, I thought we were going to get beat,” said winning trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. “But we showed up.”

 

It was the first graded stakes victory for the 5-year-old daughter of Alex’s Pal, who joined Dutrow’s barn last fall and subsequently finished third in the Grade 2 Go for Wand at Aqueduct Racetrack in November, third in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park in February, and second to It’s Tricky in the Grade 2 Distaff at Aqueduct in April.

“I said, ‘I can’t believe she’s going to run second again in a graded race,’” said winning owner Eric Fein. “I wanted that graded win for her. The jock turned her head a little bit, she saw the other horse, she fights …. she’s proven she’s got more heart than anybody.”

 

Second one week ago at Parx Racing in the My Juliet, in which Nicole H finished fourth, C C’s Pal is now 8-7-6 from 29 career starts. No worse than third in five starts this year, including a victory in the Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day, C C’s Pal won $120,000 to increase her earnings to $663,086 and returned $5.70 for a $2 win bet as the 9-5 second choice.

 

Dutrow said he had not picked out the winner’s next race, and added she would get a break before resuming racing.

 

“We’ll just wing it, see where the good fillies are going, and try to duck them until we have to hit them,” he said.

 

Nicole H, who suffered her fourth straight loss, finished 3 ¼ lengths ahead of She’s Cheeky, who was followed by Belle of the Hall, Kid Kate, and Dontbeshy I’ll Buy. Smart Stride was scratched.

 

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