GRANTVILLE, PA – G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s homebred filly Morticia was able to finally break through for her first win of 2018 on Saturday in the inaugural running of the $100,000 Penn Ladies Dash Stakes at Penn National Race Course.
Breaking sharply from post 6 as the prohibitive 4-5 favorite under Jose Lezcano, Morticia quickly took the lead and raced inside of the 7-5 second choice Just Talkin. Together, the top two fought heads apart through opening fractions of :22.78 and :44.73. Nearing the final 1/2-furlong, Morticia began to inch away steadily, eventually hitting the wire first by a growing length in a final time of :56.35 for the 5-furlong turf sprint.
“She’s a very nice filly,” Lezcano said. “She broke good. I asked her in the stretch and she came on and won very easy. She was very relaxed early. I wanted to make her relax and finish good. I think she’s improved every race.”
Longshot Rocky Policy saved ground near the rear early before exploding late in the stretch to overtake a weakening Just Talkin for second. Assail necked out fourth over Boos, while Your Pace Or Mine took sixth. Grogger was a head past Daylight Ahead for seventh, and Tanya’s Gem completed the order of finish. My Sister Caro, Polite Pearl, and Zealous Scholar were scratched.
Morticia’s win improved her record to 13-7-3-2 with career earnings of $462,675. The 4-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy had finished second, third, and second in her three previous 2018 starts, so her trainer and co-breeder, Rusty Arnold, was understandably happy with the result today.
“The year didn’t get off the way we wanted, but she had run well every time,” Arnold said. “She was a little bit a victim of circumstances. She got caught on the inside a couple times; even today, she did. Her races were good; they just weren’t winning races. I was glad to see her get back on track today. She had really, really done well coming out of the Churchill race. She trained great. She got here. The trip was good. Of course, I’ve been watching the weather for three days. I didn’t know which way it was going to go, and then it went good for us. We had firm turf, which is what she wants.”
Morticia returned $3.60 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Rocky Policy brought back $11 to place and $3.80 to show, while Just Talkin paid $2.10 to show.