FRANKLIN, KY – G. Watts Humphrey, Jr.’s homebred Morticia flashed the most early speed and proved too fast to catch in Saturday’s $500,000 Spendthrift Farm Ladies Sprint Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs.
Breaking swiftly from post 7 under Tyler Gaffalione as the 5/1 second choice, Morticia set the early pace between Painting Corners and Stillwater Cove as they headed toward the far turn. Morticia created extra distance while running down the hill, distance that widened as she made the stretch.
Continuing to run unopposed, the Rusty Arnold trainee crossed 1 3/4 lengths clear in a final time of 1:15.85 for the 6 1/2-furlong sprint over the firm turf course.
“The track has been playing speed-favoring all day,” Gaffalione said. “I didn’t want to take away anything that came easy. She broke so fast, so I just tried to settle her. She got in a nice rhythm around the turn, and when I asked her in the stretch, she really kicked home.”
A Little Bit Me split between foes in the later stages to get up for second by a 1/2-length over the 9/5 favorite Oleksandra, who finished strongly but was left with too much to do after breaking slowly. Stillwater Cove and Painting Corners weakened to fourth and fifth, respectively, while Coexistence nosed out Cool Beans for sixth.
May Lily, Ruby Notion, Pastime, Raven’s Lady, and Tiny Tina completed the order of finish. La Dame Blanche, She’s All Skeet, and Therighttobeararms were scratched after not drawing in from the Also-Eligible list.
Morticia’s win was third of the year and improved her record to 25-10-6-6, with a rare off-the-board performance coming last out in the Smart N Fancy Stakes at Saratoga. The 5-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy has earned $992,149 in a career that will end after one final start in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (G3) at Keeneland in mid-October.
“It was great to see her come back,” said Arnold, who also saddled Totally Boss to victory in the Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes (G3). “There was a question of maybe if she had lost her edge. Her last race at Saratoga wasn’t very good. We hope we found the reasons for it. Everyone was concerned about 6 1/2 furlongs, but she had won at 7 furlongs. I think this may even be better for her, the way she did it. I’m not sure this wasn’t her best race.”
Morticia returned $12 to win, $6.80 to place, and $4 to show. A Little Bit Me brought back $17.20 to place and $7.80 to show, while Oleksandra paid $2.80 to show.