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BALTIMORE, MD – Trainer George Weaver’s lightly-raced but ultra-talented pupil Point of Honor bloomed beautifully in the stretch run to earn her first career graded score in Friday’s $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico Race Course.
Breaking from post 8 under Javier Castellano as the very narrow 5/2 second choice, Point of Honor took back heading into the clubhouse turn and settled three-wide as Cookie Dough posted sensible opening fractions of :23.35, :47.02, and 1:10.81. Still racing wide but in the clear as she made the far turn, Point of Honor quickened her pace at the 1/4 pole and straightened for home aiming for the front.
Cookie Dough began to weaken at the top of the stretch, allowing Ulele to scoot underneath her. Point of Honor had to dig deep to fend off her rail-running foe, but in the shadow of the wire, she was able to poke ahead. Point of Honor crossed with a 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:47.88 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track.
“I was kind of rolled around last time at Gulfstream and tried to save ground and didn’t have the best result,” said Castellano, who capped off an astounding five-win streak after previously taking an allowance race, the Skipat Stakes, the Miss Preakness Stakes (G3), and the Hilltop Stakes. “Today, she placed perfect – eight horses. I lost a little ground but had a free trip. I didn’t have to get bounced around with the horses. I didn’t have to step aside. It worked out perfect. It was a perfect trip. Outside in the clear, she went by all the horses. That’s what I was looking for today and we had the best result.”
Ulele was 2 1/4 lengths clear of Cookie Dough, who in turn was 4 1/4 lengths clear of a photo finish for fourth. After being the closest pace tracker for much of the race, Brill retreated steadily in the stretch and was only able to just neck out Off Topic for fourth. The narrow 5/2 favorite Always Shopping, a proven winner at this distance, couldn’t muster a rally in the stretch before finishing a disappointing sixth. Las Setas and Our Super Freak completed the order of finish.
Sweet Diane was a trainer scratch.
Point of Honor’s win was her third in four career starts and her second stakes following the $150,000 Suncoast Stakes, with her lone loss coming last out in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). The 3-year-old daughter of Curlin has now earned $246,375 for co-owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing.
“She’s 3-for-4 now and we’ve always liked her,” Weaver said. “She graduated first time out and won a stakes next time out. The Gulfstream Park race was a little odd to us. She had some trouble in the first turn and got steadied and ate a little bit of dirt. She just didn’t seem quite as handy or responsive that day, but the track was playing that day like a conveyor belt and it was carrying the front runners and it was a short run to the wire, so she didn’t really get into gear until inside the 1/16-pole. We drew a little outside today and you lose ground being wide, but I think she likes that kind of trip. Javier rode her as such and she went back to where we were in the first place of wanting to go to the Kentucky Oaks and participate in some of these big races. She’s just very professional, very classy.”
Point of Honor returned $7.80 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.20 to show. Ulele brought back $7.80 to place and $5 to show, while Cookie Dough paid $3.80 to show.
Along with the purse money, Point of Honor’s connections won a no-guarantee breeding season to Point of Entry from his breeder Adena Springs.
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