Mo' Green rallied out of the final turn and overtook Verve's Tale in the stretch to win her first career graded stakes, capturing the 77th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Top Flight Invitational for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Owned by Leonard Green and trained by John Servis, the 4-year-old Uncle Mo filly stalked the pace as 4-5 favorite Isabelle set the early fractions of 24.47 seconds for a quarter-mile and the half in 48.98 with Verve's Tale in close pursuit.
Mo' Green, who was running at 1 1/8 miles for the first time, waited patiently under jockey Irad Oritz, Jr. and was sent four-wide in the upper stretch. She passed a tiring Isabelle and edged clear of Verve's Tale, who was on the rail, to post a 3 ½-length victory, hitting the wire in 1:51.79.
"John didn't want me to go too early or be close to the pace," Ortiz said. "The plan was to stalk and just ride my race. She broke so sharp, I just put the reins down to relax her and when I asked her she just picked it up."
Off at 3-1, Mo' Green won for the second time in three starts The Kentucky-bred paid $8.40 on a $2 win bet, nearly doubling her career earnings to $259,420. She is 3-3-1 in her last eight starts.
"I was very impressed," said Servis, who added he could be pointing her towards the Allaire DuPont Distaff on May 19 at Pimlico. "This is the first time I've run her and I was a little concerned about her in the paddock, she seemed very quiet. I asked the owners, 'is she always like this?' And they said, 'no, she's usually ramped up.' Then when she broke, she broke so sharp I knew I didn't have to worry about her being quiet.
"She put herself into the race and had a perfect trip," he added. "When they leave there running, they usually put themselves in good positions and he [Ortiz] was really just able to sit on her until the eighth pole."
Verve's Tale, the winner of the Grade 3 Comely for trainer Barclay Tagg, was the runner-up. Oasis at Midnight, a 38-1 longshot for trainer Joseph Orseno, was third. Winter and Isabelle completed the order of finish.
Source: NYRA Communications