TORONTO, ON – Apogee Bloodstock and Mike Anderson Racing’s Abscond fought tooth and nail with Walk In Marrakesh in the stretch before escaping defeat by the narrowest of margins in Sunday’s $250,000 Natalma Stakes (G1) at Woodbine.
The Natalma is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Abscond receiving an automatic berth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking from the far outside post 8 at 9/1 odds under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Abscond rushed up to challenge the rail-breaking Walk In Marrakesh for the lead. The two fillies raced heads apart through opening fractions of :23.99 and :48.24 while the rest of the field ran within striking distance down the back and through the far turn.
Near the top of the stretch, the stalking 3/5 favorite Fair Maiden wheeled out and commenced a challenge. The three-wide wall of fillies kicked away from the rest of the field, with none refusing to yield.
As she closed in, Fair Maiden drifted out slightly, making it a two-horse race late that looked destined for a photo finish. The Eddie Kenneally-trained Abscond ultimately crossed a nostril in front in a head-bobbing effort over Walk In Marrakesh.
“She broke sharp and just stayed in the middle of the turf course and she was relaxed,” said Ortiz, Jr., who also won the Summer Stakes (G1) two races prior aboard Decorated Invader. “She was going relaxed in the middle of the track, so I left her there, I didn’t fight too much with her. 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.”
Fair Maiden’s late antics put her a neck behind in third, while Diamond Sparkles and Secret Stash – who was cross-entered in the Summer but opted to run here – were noses apart for fourth. Saratoga Vision and Runway Dreamer completed the order of finish. Coach Lori was scratched.
Abscond’s win was her second in three career starts, having broken her maiden at Ellis Park before finishing second in the Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga. The daughter of Blame, purchased for $90,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale, has now earned $162,875.
“I’m really impressed with her,” said assistant trainer Kelly Wheeler. “She’s done everything right since she broke her maiden. We 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.”
Abscond returned $21 to win, $6.60 to place, and $2.80 to show. Walk In Marrakesh brought back $5.60 to place and $2.90 to show, while Fair Maiden paid $2.10 to show.