After losing the lead at the top of the stretch, Invading Humor battled back along the inside and went on to a one-length victory over Strike Accord on Sunday in the $125,000 John Hettinger for New York-bred fillies and mares at Belmont Park.
With Rajiv Maragh aboard, Invading Humor bounded to the front along with Princess Mara and the two raced in tandem to set fractions of 24.47 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 49.37 for the half. Still ahead rounding the turn, Invading Humor began edging clear of Princess Mara, but was overtaken by the oncoming favorite, Effie Trinket, and Mah Jong Maddnes. Invading Humor refused to yield, however, and grimly fought back to regain the lead inside the eighth pole with enough left to hold off the late run from Strike Accord.
Her winning time for the 1 1/8 miles over the "good" turf course was 1:49.47.
"I didn't ask her until I got to the stretch" said Maragh. "I thought I still had horse, but until you let them loose you never know. When I asked her to run, she just sprinted away. I hadn't ridden her in a while, but I won on her going a mile. This was only a furlong more, and I thought she could handle it. Even through the wire, she kept on going."
It was the fourth straight win and first in a stakes for Invading Humor, who won a pair of allowance events at Saratoga Race Course during the summer, preceded by a hard-fought victory in an optional claimer in July at Belmont.
"She's really been a little bit of a surprise," said Bruce Levine, who trains the 4-year-old Invasor filly for Bloodlines Racing Partnership. "She's overachieved this year. She's got a big heart and is as game as they come. I was a little nervous when the other two went outside them [Effie Trinket and Mah Jong Maddnes], but she's a fighter. When she dug in and they straightened out, I knew she had more."
Effie Trinket held on for third, followed by Selenite, Dreaming of Cara, Frosty Bay, Stock Fund, Mah Jong Maddnes, and Princess Mara. Main track only entrants Carameaway and Get Gorgeous were scratched.
Sent off at 5-1, Invading Humor returned $12.80 for a $2 win bet as she enhanced her record to 6-1-1 from 12 career starts. The winner's purse of $75,000 lifted her earnings to $303,700. Her next start, said Levine, likely will come in the Iroquois on Empire Showcase Day on October 18 at Belmont Park.
Source: NYRA Communications