Miz Ida collected the fifth stakes win of her 12-race career with a 1 ¼-length victory over odds-on favorite Daisy Devine in Saturday's 37th running of the $109,100 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
Leading jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, carrying 117 pounds, rode the winner for owners/breeders Richard, Bert and Elaine Klein and trainer Steve Margolis. Miz Ida, a 4-year-old filly, clocked 1 1/16 miles on a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:42.37 – the fastest clocking of the race since Quite a Bride's stakes record of 1:40.70 in 2007.
Miz Ida, who lunged at the start to get away a step slow, had one horse beat in the early stages of the two-turn race as Soft Whisper and Daisy Devine led the field of six fillies and mares through modest fractions of :24.82, :48.29 and 1:11.89. Daisy Devine grabbed the lead at the head of the stretch, but Miz Ida, who trailed by as many as 10 lengths, quickened along the hedge midway around the final turn. Bridgmohan switched her to the outside with a furlong to run and she engulfed the favorite quickly to win going away.
Miz Ida – named for the Kleins' 85-year-old friend and Holocaust survivor, Ida Schultz of South Florida – paid $9.60, $3.20 and $2.60 as the 7-2 second choice. Daisy Devine, the 120-pound starting high weight and 4-5 favorite ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., returned $2.60 and $2.20. Colonial Flag, tacking 118 pounds and rider Joe Rocco Jr., was another 1 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $3.20.
Soft Whisper, Heavenly Landing and Run a Risk completed the order of finish.
The $66,966 first prize jumped Miz Ida's bankroll to $383,151. Overall, the daughter of Proud Citizen out of the Green Alligator mare May Gator has won seven of her 12 starts with one second.
Miz Ida, bred in Kentucky, is now a graded stakes winner at age 3 and 4. Last fall, she prevailed in a division of the Grade III Valley View at Keeneland Race Course.
Earlier this season, Bridgmohan, Margolis and the Kleins combined to win the Unbridled Sidney with Good Deed. For Bridgmohan, it was his fourth stakes win of the meet.
EARLY TIMES MINT JULEP HANDICAP QUOTES
Steve Margolis, trainer of Miz Ida, winner: “She ran a great race. We had enough works into her before her first start, but there's nothing like having a race. She was a little eager in her first race in seven months, but still ran a good race.”
Were you concerned about being far back early? “Down the backside, when I saw the half in :48, I was wishing we were a little closer, but then I remembered the way she ran last year and she kicked from that far back. And (jockey) Shaun (Bridgmohan) knows the filly.
Any idea where she'll run next? “I don't know. There are a couple spots up at Saratoga and there is a race at Canterbury. We'll mull it over and figure out what's best for her.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, rider Miz Ida, winner: “Last time, I didn't get her to relax as well as I did today and it compromised her finish. Obviously, today she showed the kind of finishing kick she can have if you get her to relax. With a race under her, she was able to relax. Steve (Margolis) has done a phenomenal job with her.”
Andrew McKeever, trainer of Daisy Devine, runner-up: “The other filly (Miz Ida) obviously has absolutely peaked at the right time and she ran a hell of a race. She looked really good as a 3-year-old. I'm just disappointed for Daisy Devine. She needs to win. She's used to winning.
“I thought he (jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.) rode her perfect. There was a lot of speed. The other horse (Soft Whisper) was obviously sent and told to go. That didn't help, because she (Daisy Devine) likes to be up in front. But that's horse racing, you know? You're not given anything.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., rider on Daisy Devine, runner-up: “We had a great trip on the outside – really smooth. We turned for home and she picked it up nicely, but the other filly (Miz Ida) just sprinted home a little faster.
“We had no trouble anywhere. The 6-horse (Soft Whisper) cleared us off right away, and we got on her outside and just kind of tracked her. She was on a long line and when I squeezed on her she picked it up nicely. But the other horse was just a little better than us today.”
Joe Rocco, Jr., rider on Colonial Flag, third: “I thought we had a good trip. We settled-in on the fence behind the speed and I was able to angle around them at the quarter pole. She put in her run, but just got tired. I think she might have needed the race coming off a layoff.”
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