LEXINGTON, KY – Third in this race a year ago, G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s homebred Morticia unleashed a strong stretch run that earned her revenge on the field in Saturday’s Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland.
Breaking well from post 8 as the 2/1 favorite under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Morticia raced four-wide in fourth while Seeknthegiantpearl and Student Body dueled up front through opening fractions of :21.87 and :45.47. Fanned out in the far turn to run six-wide down the stretch, Morticia gobbled up ground in the stretch, then fended off a late bid from Excessivespending to win by a neck.
The Rusty Arnold trainee’s win came in a final time of 1:03.18 for the 5 1/2-furlong sprint over the firm turf course.
“She broke out of there and she relaxed so well,” said Ortiz, Jr. “She relaxed behind some horses and I didn’t rush her, and when I tipped her out in the stretch, she responded really well.”
Excessivespending came up short of winning but was 1 length clear of Surrender Now in third. Luvin Bullies headed La Dame Blanche for fourth, while Factorofwon was a 1/2-length and a neck ahead of Seeknthegiantpearl and Straitouttapopcorn. Student Body and A Little Bit Me completed the order of finish.
Mrs. Ramona G. was scratched.
Morticia’s win was her first in her previous nine starts, having last won on June 2, 2018, in the Penn Ladies Dash Stakes at Penn National. The 5-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy now carries a record of 20-8-5-4 with $593,325 earned.
Following the race, her connections were relieved that her eight-race losing streak hadn’t taken its toll on her mentally.
“You worry about it, but she had trained great and (there have been) circumstances – she kept drawing the inside and was forced to use her speed,” said Arnold, who also shares ownership duties. “I told Irad, ‘If they go, let her off them.’ He rode her so good for never being on her. She’s a little difficult.”
Morticia returned $6.40 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. Excessivespending brought back $4.60 to place and $3.40 to show, while Surrender Now paid $3.60 to show.