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Gotta Be Strong Finishes Sharply in New Start

Gotta Be Strong Finishes Sharply in New Start

GRANTVILLE, PA – Gap View Stables and Jagger Inc.’s Gotta Be Strong only led for a couple of steps, but they were the ones that counted when it mattered, as the 3-year-old filly got up in the shadow of the wire to win Saturday’s $100,000 New Start Stakes at Penn National.

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Breaking from post 2 under Frankie Pennington as the 2/1 second choice on the tote, Gotta Be Strong took back early and watched as Cardi G and Amandasromeo dueled up front through fractions of :21.52 and :44.76. Still racing near the rear as she rounded the far turn, Gotta Be Strong drifted in slightly in response to Pennington’s right-handed whip, causing Key Light (running inside of and slightly behind her) to pull up briefly.

Straightened out at the top of the stretch, Gotta Be Strong began reeling in her foes with every step. Under steady encouragement from Pennington, the Jamie Ness trainee collared the new leader I’m the Talent inside the 1/16 pole, then drew off in the final jumps for victory. Her winning time for the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track came in 1:10.64.

Sent postward as the 7/5 favorite, I’m the Talent was unable to hold off the winner late and had to settle for second, a neck ahead of Key Light. Key Light’s coupled entry stablemate Keltoi finished 3/4 of a length behind in fourth. After taking the lead momentarily off of the far turn, Amandasromeo couldn’t maintain position in the stretch and weakened to fifth, ahead of only a spent Cardi G. Ujjayi, Ultimate Mo, and Tara’s Talent were scratched.

Following the race, Key Light’s jockey Inoel Beato lodged a claim of foul against Pennington for Gotta Be Strong’s far turn behavior, but the stewards ultimately dismissed the claim and made no change to the original order of finish.

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Gotta Be Strong’s win came in both her Penn National and stakes debuts and improved her overall record to 10-5-3-1. The 3-year-old daughter of Strong Mandate, claimed for $50,000 following a win on January 7, has now earned $231,090.

Gotta Be Strong returned $6.20 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.40 to show. I’m the Talent brought back $3 to place and $2.10 to show, while the coupled entries of Keltoi and Key Light each paid $2.20 to show.

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