Ejetero LLC's Empire Panther took the lead at the top of the stretch and held off a late challenge from Ash n' Em to give jockey Rebecca LaBarre her first professional victory Saturday at Laurel Park.
Empire Panther ($4.80), trained by Jose Corrales, ran one mile in 1:40.86 over a fast main track to win the $18,000 maiden claiming event for 3-year-old fillies by a neck in her 11th career start.
LaBarre settled Empire Panther in third along the rail as Ash n' Em and Haitian Queen battled up front through fractions of 24.28 and 48.24 seconds. LaBarre shifted three wide leaving the backstretch to launch her bid, taking over the lead straightening for home and opening up enough to turn back Ash n' Em's late bid.
“Oh my gosh, it feels amazing. I can't even explain what it feels like,” LaBarre said. “I love winning. Hopefully, it's the first of many.”
A 24-year-old native of Spring Valley, Wis., LaBarre rode in 12 amateur races between 2015 and 2018 and made her professional debut Jan. 5, 2017 at Gulfstream Park. She began riding regularly in mid-December at Laurel, her first win coming in her 13th pro mount and third of 2019.
“I came to Maryland probably six months ago,” LaBarre said. “I started riding for the Gaudets and then I sort of went out on my own. Mr. Corrales and everybody has been really good about putting me on and helping me out. I have to thank them all.”
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