ELMONT, NY – Kent Spellman’s Kirby’s Penny stalked the early leaders before pouncing in mid-stretch and drawing off in her stakes debut to take Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post 2 under John Velazquez, Kirby’s Penny sat in mid-pack early while Sounds Delicious posted initial splits of :22.20 and :45.12. Midway through the far turn, Chalon challenged and then overtook Sounds Delicious, with Kirby’s Penny following close behind. Hitting the front stretch, Velazquez angled Kirby’s Penny out into the clear, then commenced a rally to wrangle and eventually overtake Chalon. Taking command in the final 1/16 of a mile, the Wesley Ward trainee kicked strongly through the wire to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:16.42 for the 6 1/2-furlong sprint over a main track rated good.
“I went to go and get good position,” said Velazquez. “When the other one (Chalon) went and put the other horse on the lead, it was perfect because it let somebody else put the fight on the horse in front, so we went to the outside, and she did it all after that.”
Chalon held on to take second, 3 1/4 lengths ahead of the 7/5 favorite Holiday Disguise. Sounds Delicious faded to finish fourth ahead of Swing and Sway and Ascertain to complete the order of finish.
Kirby’s Penny returned to the winner’s circle for the second time in as many starts this year after taking an allowance event at Keeneland in her 2018 debut on April 4. The 5-year-old daughter of Macho Uno improved her overall record to 12-7-2-0 with career earnings of $338,916. The late-blooming mare has now won four times (with two seconds) in six starts since Ward claimed her for $40,000 on April 19, 2017, and will likely take a break before returning in the summer to prepare for a fall championship run.
“Ultimately, what we’ll try to do is try to get her in the (Breeders’ Cup) Filly & Mare Sprint in the fall at Churchill,” Ward said. “She’ll probably get a race in Saratoga, and sometimes it rains a lot there, so hopefully we’ll get lucky again, and then in the fall at Keeneland. It gets a little rainy there, too. That’s the key is she loves an off going.”
Kirby’s Penny returned $16.20 to win, $6.60 to place, and $3.20 to show. Chalon brought back $4.60 to place and $3 to show, while Holiday Disguise paid $2.30 to show.