LEXINGTON, KY – G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s homebred Morticia invoked her namesake’s power on Friday, using a strong move down the stretch to take the Grade 3, $100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland.
Breaking from post 6 under Jose Lezcano, Morticia sat just to the outside of the pace set by Kasuga through an opening 1/4-mile of :22.31. Off the far turn, Morticia dug in to take command and began to draw away in mid-stretch, then held off a late-rallying Justa Lady to hit the finish line first by a 1/2-length in a final time of 1:03.92 for the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint.
“She’s a very nice filly,” Lezcano said. “She does what you ask her to do. She broke good and I let her sit right behind the horse on the lead. Then I asked her, and she went on to win the race.”
Justa Lady crossed 2 lengths ahead of the favored Lull, who managed to just beat out a fading Kasuga by a nose. Always Thinking was a neck further back in fifth, with Nobody’s Fault, Miss Ella, Boom Bam Bing, Scatter Gun, Carolina Shag, Indriya, and Childhood completing the order of finish. Excessivespending, Marquee Cal Gal, Ruby Notion, and Wheatfield were scratched.
Undefeated at turf distances less than 6 furlongs but winless at anything more, Morticia improved her career record to 9-6-1-1. The 3-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy has now earned $366,475.
“She got beat here in the spring (in the Grade 3 Appalachian), but that was at a mile,” said winning trainer Rusty Arnold. “Jose knows her so well, I don’t even say anything to him.”
Morticia returned $7.60 to win, $4.20 to place, and $3 to show. Justa Lady brought back $17.80 to place and $8.60 to show, while Lull paid $2.80 to show.