'Sporting decision' made to race millionaire Morticia in 2020

November 11, 2019 11:30am

Trainer Rusty Arnold took notice when 6-year-old Belvoir Bay won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, then hours later at Santa Anita Park, a mare of the same age, Blue Prize, prevailed in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Connections reconsidered the decision to retire recently minted millionaire Morticia, with the G. Watts Humphrey Jr. homebred now scheduled to run in 2020 — also at age 6.

“I think the racing game is really good right now — maybe the strongest it’s been since I’ve been training in Kentucky,” Arnold said. “This wasn’t a financial decision. A lot of it was Mr. Humphrey’s sporting decision.

“She’s a good filly. She was competitive right through her last race. She had her best season at age 5. She’s a sprinter and extremely sound, knock on wood.

“Part of it was just the fun of running her, and we decided we wanted another year.”

Morticia, a daughter of Twirling Candy, is in the shorter term entered to run Thursday in Race 6 at Churchill Downs, a 5 1/2-furlong allowance event on the turf. But Arnold termed her “very doubtful” given a chilly forecast this week that could include rain and possibly snow.

Whether Morticia goes postward Thursday as the 4-5 morning line favorite, she will head to Humphrey’s farm for a freshening.

A recently minted millionaire, Morticia originally had Keeneland’s Oct. 11 Franklin County Stakes (G3) as a career finale. She ran second a race after winning the Ladies Sprint Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs.

Overall, Morticia has won 10 of 26 career starts, with the last three of those in Kentucky. Arnold did think about the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint for the mare, too.

“Probably had it been here, we may have run this year, but we didn’t,” he said. “The way the race played, I wish we had.”

Belvoir Bay took them all the way in the same fashion Morticia likes to run, setting the pace. The championships return to Keeneland next year, with the Turf Sprint on her radar.

“Fillies that can get you to those kind of races are few and far between,” Arnold said. “That weighed in the decision, too.”


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