BALTIMORE, MD – LNJ Foxwoods’ Covfefe scorched the main track in track-record time, crushing her foes under a hand ride in Friday’s $150,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.
Breaking sharply from post 2 under Javier Castellano as the 9/5 favorite, Covfefe held the inside advantage down the backstretch while Congrats Gal kept close watch along her outside through opening fractions of :22.24 and :44.23. Rounding the far turn, Covfefe began to pull away steadily, and at the top of the stretch, she held a very clear lead. Continuing to be hand-ridden the length of the stretch, Covfefe drew off like she was the only horse in the race. The Brad Cox trainee crossed the wire 8 1/2 lengths ahead in a track-record time of 1:07.70 (including the final furlong in :11.69) for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“She did it very easy,” said Castellano, who also won the Skipat Stakes one race earlier aboard Chalon. “I didn’t expect her to be on the lead. She has speed, but the way I handicapped the race, in the back of my mind, I didn’t want to take the pace because I knew it was going to be really fast and I was looking to save something for the end. But it didn’t work that way. She broke out of the gate and I had the best horse in the race. Let’s put in a great performance today and that’s exactly what she did today.”
Please Flatter Me proved to be the best of the rest, taking second by 3 1/2 lengths over Tomlin, with Midnight Fantasy another 1 1/2 lengths behind in fourth. Never Enough Time finished fifth over Bye Bye J, followed by Fighting Mad, Brunette Princess, and an eased Congrats Gal. Iva, Miss Imperial, and Sue’s Fortune were all trainer scratches, while Best Kept Secret did not draw into the race as an also-eligible.
Tragedy struck shortly after the finish when Congrats Gal collapsed on the track and did not survive. The Stronach Group and the Maryland Jockey Club later released a joint statement:
“Congrats Gal suffered sudden death after the eighth race today. The incident occurred after the wire. Commission veterinarians attended to the horse immediately. Our thoughts go out to all of the owners, trainers and connections of Congrats Gal. The Stronach Group is committed to the welfare and safety of horses above all and we are saddened by what happened today. A full necropsy will be performed to try to determine the cause of death.”
Covfefe’s win was her second straight following an allowance score at Keeneland to kick off her 2019 season and improved her overall record to 4-3-0-0. The 3-year-old daughter of Into Mischief, purchased for $250,000 as a yearling, has now earned $196,200 to date.
“Javier did a great job,” Cox said. “She did break the track record? It doesn’t matter, but she’s fast. We weren’t hell-bent on getting to the lead today. We were going to let the speed go if there was a lot of it. Javier did a great job of letting her fall into the race. I’m super pleased with her. This filly, we’ve thought she was a superstar from the start. To ship her to a Grade 1 (the Frizette last fall) off breaking her maiden should tell you we like her. She put it together today.”
Covfefe returned $5.60 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.80 to show. Please Flatter Me brought back $5.40 to place and $4 to show, while Tomlin paid $5.60 to show.