Trainer Brian Michael Earns First Stakes Win With 34-1 Longshot
Running in her first stakes race, La Malaguena blew up the Tote board in the $60,000 Wintergreen Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, winning by half a length at 34-1 and giving trainer Brian Michael his first stakes trophy.
Agressive Elegance was second at 69-1, capping a $2,996.80 Exacta. Moon Philly was third, 2-1/4 lengths farther back to complete a Trifecta that paid $29,489.65 for a 50-cent wager.
Final time for the one-mile Wintergreen was 1:37.34.
Breaking from post eight, Jimenez settled La Malaguena toward the inside a couple of lengths off the speedy 23.66, 46.41, and 1:10.92 pace set by Lady Diva GaGa. Coming to the turn, he angled her out three wide, took the lead before the eighth pole and then held off Agressive Elegance’s late charge.
“She broke really well and then I had to fight for my position,” said winning jockey Albin Jimenez. “When we turned into the stretch I knew I had a lot of horse left.”
Owner Alan Tennenbaum claimed La Malaguena for $20,000 from Peachtree Stable and trainer Dale Romans out of a race at Keeneland last spring. Asked what caught his and Tennenbaum’s attention, Michael said, “She’d run in California, Florida, and New York—she had literally been in every corner of the country, and she was running in some of the toughest maiden special weights in the country. And she was putting up some good numbers. She’s small but she’s very gritty. She’s cool, calm, and collected. She’s just a smart mare. She keeps grinding and grinding, and she’s just gotten better.”
Finishing behind Moon Philly were 108-1 Prize Winner, Dreamin Big, Karola’s Dance, Nava, Truly Marie, Lady Diva Ga Ga, Some Temper, the 5-2 favorite Coup, and Skyfall. Lead Me On and Make a Toast did not draw in from the also eligible list and were scratched.
La Malaguena rewarded her backers with $71.60 to win, $25.20 to place, and $15.20 to show. The dime Superfecta paid $689.50.
From 20 starts, La Malaguena now has five wins, five seconds, and four thirds and earnings of $148,282. She has finished out of the money only three times in her 12 starts for Michael, and all of her wins have come under his care.
A 5-year-old bay mare by English Channel out of Brazilian, by Stravinsky, La Malaguena was bred in Kentucky by her original owner, Peachtree Stable.
Turfway’s January-February schedule continues with live racing Friday nights at 6:15 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 1:10 p.m.