Apogee Bloodstock and Mike Anderson Racing's Abscond was all heart in Sunday's Grade 1 Natalma Stakes, rallying between rivals in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the three-way photo by a nose. The 2-year-old daughter of Blame, ridden by Irad Ortiz for his second Grade 1 win on the card, covered a mile over Woodbine's yielding turf course in 1:36.51. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, the 8-1 chance Abscond earned an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with her victory.
“I'm really impressed with her,” said assistant trainer Kelly Wheeler. “She's done everything right since she broke her maiden. Really, we've asked a lot of her shipping her up to Saratoga – she handled that great. So we shipped her up here, it looked like a good spot, and she came through.”
Walk in Marrakesh and Abscond were locked in battle early in the Natalma, with Abscond the quickest out of the gate and first to the lead. Down the backstretch, Walk in Marrakesh came up the inside to lead by a restrained head, setting fractions of :23.99 and :48.24 while 1-2 favorite Fair Maiden stalked three-wide in third position.
Rounding the far turn, Fair Maiden joined the leading pair to make it three across the track turning for home. None in the trio, with Walk in Marrakesh on the inside and Abscond between rivals, gave an inch down the stretch until the final sixteenth of a mile. Fair Maiden wandered out a bit then, and Abscond was just able to nose out Walk in Marrakesh for the victory. Fair Maiden had to settle for third, while Diamond Sparkles claimed fourth.
“(Wheeler) told me she's a nice filly, she probably needed a little more ground last time,” said Ortiz.
“She was acting really good, she broke out of there and she broke sharp and just stayed in the middle of the turf course and she was relaxed. She was going relaxed in the middle of the track so I left her there, I didn't fight too much with her.
“And then by the time I start saving some ground in the turn and when I asked her to go, she's a fighter. She fought with the outside horse and came back on the inside. She fought back and she put a head in front in the last couple of jumps. Everything worked out good for us.”
Bred in Kentucky by Michael Niall, Abscond is out of the winning Grand Slam mare Solitary Life. The filly commanded $35,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland November sale, then later brought $90,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September. Apogee Bloodstock entered her in the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old in training sale, but opted to retain her when bidding stopped at $30,000. Since then, Abscond has won two of her three starts for earnings of nearly $200,000.
Wheeler added that it was too soon to say for sure that a Breeders' Cup appearance would be in the cards.
“I guess it's up to Eddie and the owner,” said the assistant. “She'll tell us, how she comes out of the race. She'll ship back to Kentucky and we'll go from there.”
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