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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Wolfe Racing and Hugh Robertson’s Piece of My Heart struck the front early and never relented, taking the field gate to wire in Friday’s inaugural running of the $80,000 Gardenia Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Breaking from the inner-most post under Joe Talamo at 8/1 odds, Piece of My Heart was quick into stride and secured command heading into the clubhouse turn, though Comical, Antoinette, and His Glory went wide trying to challenge. After straightening out on the backstretch, the middle two dropped back into close stalking positions while His Glory pressed Piece of My Heart through opening fractions of :23.02, :46.04, and 1:10.78.
Heading into the far turn, His Glory began to weaken, giving Piece of My Heart a chance to catch her breath. The pacesetting filly hit the top of the front stretch coming back under pressure from several rivals, but she quickly dispatched of them and began to inch away.
Kept to a drive the length of the stretch, Piece of My Heart crossed 1 1/2 lengths in front of Comical to win her stakes debut. The McLean Robertson trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast track in a final time of 1:43.28.
Comical finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Antoinette, who was bet down heavily from her 8/1 morning line to become the 2/1 favorite. Daphne Moon was slow out of the gate and spotted the field a decent margin early, but she rallied through the far turn to get up for fourth by 1 1/4 lengths over Gingham.
Strong Flag, Turnstone, His Glory, and Shanghai Keely completed the order of finish. Black Kat Taps, Quick Decision, Kiss the Girl, Punk Rock Princess, and Ice Princess (who raced in the Fantasy Stakes [G3] one race later, finishing ninth) were scratched.
Piece of My Heart’s win was her second straight, having defeated allowance/optional claiming rivals while going 1 mile here on April 10. The 3-year-old daughter of Flatter now carries a record of 8-3-2-1 with $135,750 earned.
Piece of My Heart returned $19.20 to win, $8.60 to place, and $4.60 to show. Comical brought back $7.60 to place and $4.20 to show, while Antoinette paid $3 to show.
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