SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Capping off a thrilling stretch run between two of racing’s top female sprinters, Paulassilverlining edged Finley’sluckycharm in the shadow of the wire to take Wednesday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.
Ridden for the 14th time by Jose Ortiz, Paulassilverlining broke cleanly along with the rest of the field of five fillies and mares. The Chad Brown trainee quickly settled into third, 2 lengths behind pacesetter Finley’sluckycharm and Disco Chick, through early fractions of :22.69 and :45.56.
Entering the far turn, Ortiz urged Paulassilverlining to begin her move along the outside of her two rivals. Paulassilverlining pulled alongside Finley’sluckycharm exiting onto the front stretch, and the two stars dug in gamely for an exciting final 1/4-mile run to the wire. Side-by-side, they battled noses apart to the finish, with Paulassilverlining getting to the wire only a neck in front of her foe.
“Jose knows her so well, I really didn’t give him any instructions,” said Brown. “He timed it just right. She has a lot of heart. (Since) arriving in our barn, she’s done nothing wrong. She’s been a real pleasant addition to our stable: so competitive, a lot of heart, a lot of talent.”
The loss was the first at 6 furlongs for Finley’sluckycharm. She was previously five-for-five at that distance, all at Churchill Downs, including the Grade 3 Winning Colors and the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap.
“Probably, I would’ve won anyway, but I didn’t want (Finley’sluckycharm) to get big on the lead,” said Ortiz. “She was going easy enough for (jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr.), and I didn’t want them to get comfortable in there.”
Shortening up to 6 furlongs for the first time in her career, By the Moon was charging late down the stretch, nearly catching the leaders at the wire, but she came up short and finished a 1/2 length behind in third. Clothes Fall Off and Disco Chick completed the order of finish.
With the winner’s share of $120,000, Paulassilverlining increased her career earnings to $1,491,230. It was the seventh career graded stakes victory for the 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, whose four-race win streak includes the Grade 1 Madison and the Grade 1 Humana Distaff.
“Our filly won two Grade 1s in a row and she didn’t even go off favored,” said Brown. “I thought the leader got away with a real soft opening. For this caliber of race, (it was) not that fast, and Paula was able to wear her down. It was a great stretch duel. I’m glad we were able to come out on top.”
Paulassilverlining returned $5.30 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Finley’sluckycharm brought back $2.90 to place and $2.10 to show, while By the Moon paid $2.30 to show.