Kept in the clear on the outside around both turns, Effie Trinket charged down the middle to the track to collar front-running Wholelottashakin in the final yards and win the $150,000 John Hettinger for New York-breds by a neck on Sunday at Belmont Park.
It was the third career stakes win and second in three starts for Effie Trinket, who overcame a slow pace set by Harbor Mist to hit the wire in 1:50.39 for 1 1/8 miles on a firm inner turf course.
Second choice in the field of 10 at 7-2, Effie Trinket paid $9.40 for a $2 win bet. Wholelottashakin held on for second, a neck in front of 3-1 favorite Inimitable Romanee. Go Unbridled, Dreaming of Cara, Harbor Mist, Lady's Lunar Luck, Love Stanza Chance, Adriatic Dream and Mlle Margaux completed the order of finish.
"She's a nice filly," said winning trainer Rick Violette, who trains Effie Trinket for owner Patsy Symons. "Every time you run her, she shows up: sprinting, middle distance and now a mile and an eighth around two turns. It's pretty cool."
Violette had also entered Effie Trinket, a 3-year-old daughter of Freud, in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Garden City at Belmont, won by French import Alterite, who also rallied into a slow pace for the win.
"We were very, very patient today," Violette said. "Watching the Garden City, it almost didn't matter how slow you went up front, they were going to quicken and you weren't going to win. She had to be the best [today], I think, to win."
Harbor Mist broke well and set uncontested fractions of 25.29 seconds for a quarter-mile, 51.19 for the half and 1:15.37 for six furlongs, with Wholelottashakin and Lady's Lunar Luck in close pursuit. Jockey Luis Saez kept Effie Trinket outside Lady's Lunar Luck down the backstretch, sweeping four wide turning for home.
"I thought we were getting parked and stuffed around the turn, and if [Saez] didn't have a whole lot of horse we were just going to get hot and dirty," Violette said. "Obviously, he rode pretty confidently. Fortunately he knew what he was sitting on. When he asked her to run at the five-sixteenths pole, it looked like, 'Oh, my God. Here she comes.' She gave up a lot of ground around the turn and still was best. She's pretty game."
Effie Trinket is now 3-for-5 lifetime at Belmont, including a win in the Diamondrella overnight stakes on July 7 going seven furlongs. She has won five of nine career starts, and the $90,000 winner's share of the John Hettinger pushed her bankroll to $312,150.
"I liked the filly," Saez said. "She comes running pretty good. I watched her replays and I tried to put her in a good spot. I had a lot of horse, and I knew I was going to win the race when I saw Irad [Ortiz, Jr., aboard runner-up Wholelottashakin]. I switched my whip to my left hand, and she responded unbelievable."