Martin S. Schwartz' High Ridge Road made a bold late move in Saturday's G2 Barbara Fritchie Stakes, getting up just in time to nail favored By The Moon in a photo finish at the wire. The 5-year-old daughter of Quality Road has a perfect record at Laurel Park, with four wins from four starts, including this, her first graded stakes victory, for trainer Linda Rice. Under Horacio Karamanos, High Ridge Road completed seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:22.50.
“I really didn't want to be inside and I got lucky,” Karamanos said. “I saw the speed go and I sat behind. She made me work at the three-eighths pole, she was a little bit lazy but I don't think seven-eighths is the perfect distance for her. At the top of the stretch she gave me a little kick but she didn't want to switch leads. Once she switched leads at the sixteenth pole and gave me a kick, I got up at the wire over the other filly. I beat her last time, too.”
Wonder Gal and Rowd E Allie broke from the gate in unison, vying for the early lead. Wonder Gal, carrying her head a bit awkwardly to the outside, was just a head in front through a first quarter in :22.70. The leaders were tracked by another pair, with favorite By The Moon locked in along the rail by Clothes Fall Off. Meanwhile, Karamanos and High Ridge Road had left the gate a half-step slow, and the jockey really had to ride the mare in the first quarter mile in order to keep pace with the leading pack.
Rowd E Allie took over after a half in :45.34, but By The Moon bulled her way between horses to range up into second, just inside Wonder Gal. Rounding the far turn, By The Moon worked her way to the lead, and had a one-length advantage at the top of the stretch.
High Ridge Road looked as though she were finished half-way through that far turn, as she was passed by a pair of horses, trapping her along the rail. Karamanos didn't panic, biding his time and angling the mare out at the top of the lane. He rode her hard for the first sixteenth, but she refused to change leads. After Karamanos threw several crosses on her neck, High Ridge Road finally switched to her right lead, and at that point was able to close with a solid late kick.
“I've been a little nervous about being in the one post position all week since they drew the race and was concerned about that, but I thought [jockey Horacio] Karamanos negotiated himself out of the one-hole pretty well,” said Rice. “In the middle of the turn I thought we might be in trouble; she wasn't making up any ground but then as soon as he got her to the outside in the stretch and she switched her lead she's really got a great closing kick so I was very excited.”
By the Moon had looked an easy winner, but appeared to hang a bit when on an easy lead all alone. Karamanos was just able to get High Ridge Road up for the win over By the Moon at the wire. Clothes Fall Off came back to be up for third, and Wonder Gal held on to fourth.
“We're just thrilled to get a Grade 2 win for this filly,” Rice continued. The Barbara Fritchie has been a race that I've wanted to win. I ran La Verdad in the Barbara Fritchie and she finished second; it was a little too far for her. It's a thrill to win the race. It's a prestigious race and it's been around a long time. I'm also really excited to get a Grade 2 win for this filly for her broodmare value and for Mr. Schwartz. He's a great owner and he's great for the game. He invests his money and I'm glad we could get such a great result.”
Bred in Kentucky by Betz, Kidder, Blackburn, Lamantia, J. Betz, Graves and Davidson, High Ridge Road was a $180,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase. Pinhooked by Eddie Woods, she commanded $350,000 at the OBS April 2-year-old in training sale the next spring. The consistent, lightly-raced mare boasts a record of five wins from 11 starts, with two seconds and three thirds, for earnings of over $400,000.
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