Bobby R. Rankin's Funny Approval went to the front and never looked back, posting an upset victory in the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (G2) at Laurel Park Saturday afternoon.
A maiden win and two allowance scores at Mountaineer over the off-going were the credentials Funnys Approval brought to Laurel's seven furlong Winter SprintFest fixture, leaving the daughter of Outrageouslyfunny a distinct outsider in the field of eight fillies and mares. Trainer Jose Lopez and jockey Juan Vargas are also virtual unknowns in the mid-Atlantic region but they won't be after this afternoon.
Funny Approval out-stepped post time favorite My Wandy's Girl to take the lead. At the finish line she was three quarters of a length in front of My Wandy's Girl, with another longshot, Withgreatpleasure, rallying to take third.
“I was waiting for somebody to be coming,” said Vargas. ”The filly broke good. I was waiting for someone to pressure us but by the half-mile pole I could relax a little. Turning for home I did feel the horse to our inside but she had another gear to the wire.”
The win was the first graded stakes score for Vargas, who relocated to the United States from Peru in 2010 and rides regularly at Mountaineer Park, Turfway Park and Presque Isle Downs.
The winner is now 3-for-3 on an off track and improved to 4-of-8 lifetime with earnings of $196,379, including today's $150,000 paycheck.
“I always knew she was good enough to make good races,” Lopez said. “She won three races in a row and we were waiting for races. I came last week and I ran one here and I looked at the stake and said 'let's run a shot, you got to be in it to win it'. Sunday she breezed very easily, a 47, she got a ton of horse left, came back like a million dollars. When I saw the forecast I was happy about it. I was doing the rain dance. I've only won one other stake. My second is in a Grade 2. That's absolutely unbelievable.”
The winners' time for the distance over the muddy going was 1:25.29 and she paid $45.80.
“The winner had an easy lead. Nobody really went after her,” said Irad Ortiz, who was aboard My Wandy's Girl. “I saw the three horse (Onepointhreekarats) move on the outside, then decided to wait a little to make one run. My horse picked it up pretty good but couldn't catch the winner.”
“She ran her butt off,” said Travis Dunkelberger, who rode Withgreatpleasure. “We were in a good spot but the top two finishers never came back to us.”
Lopez, who is currently stabled at Turfway Park (winter) and Thistledown (summer) indicated he would be bringing a string to Maryland by the end of the year.
“I really enjoy it here,” added Lopez. “Everybody treats me very well and I should have a stable of horses that will fit in this part of the country.”
Morning line favorite Nicole H was fourth, followed by Ms. Cruisen', Morrow Cove, Onepointhreekarats and Celtic Chant. Bold Affair and Dance to Bristol scratched.
See the full chart here.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.