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Ratajkowski Runs Rust-Free in Critical Eye
Credit: NYRA

Ratajkowski Runs Rust-Free in Critical Eye

ELMONT, NY – Gary Broad’s Ratajkowski showed no signs of rust on Thursday, making her first start in nearly seven months a winning one in the $125,000 Critical Eye Stakes at Belmont Park.

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Breaking from post 2 under Jose Ortiz as the 6/5 second choice in the field of New York-bred fillies and mares, Ratajkowski immediately went to the front and challenged for the lead. Sliding up to take sole command as the field continued down the backstretch, Ratajkowski ticked off opening fractions of :22.64 and :45.10 as the even-money favorite More Mischief tracked closely from her right rip.

More Mischief began sidling up alongside the pacesetter through the far turn and headed her at the top of the stretch, but Ratajkowski responded gamely and found a new gear. Dispatching of the bettors’ choice shortly after straightening for home, Ratajkowski was kept to task and had to dig deep one more time to defend against the rallying Mrs. Orb.

Fighting hard through to the wire, the Graham Motion trainee crossed a neck clear in a final time of 1:35.05 for the mile-long event over the fast main track.

Credit: NYRA / Chelsea Durand

“She’s a nice filly; very big and has a beautiful stride and also has some speed, so we used it early and then she got going,” Ortiz said. “If they have speed and have the stride she does, just don’t get in their way. They’ll prove that they have a lot of ability. You don’t want to get in their way unless someone else goes crazy. We went kind of fast, but she always throws those kinds of fractions. She’s fast and she stays. She has speed and stamina, so she’s easy to ride.”

After settling at the rear for much of the running, Mrs.Orb’s furious rally nearly sprung the upset, as she was the 17/1 second-longest shot on the board. More Mischief dropped anchor after failing to keep pace with the winner, fading to finish third ahead of The Great Johanna, and an eased No Hayne No Gayne jogged across the wire to complete the order of finish.

English Soul lost contact with the field heading into the far turn and was pulled up by jockey Joel Rosario, but an outrider reportedly walked her back to the unsaddling area under her own power.

Ratajkowski’s win marked her fourth straight against her fellow Big Apple natives and was a nice return to form after she failed to hit the board in last November’s Falls City Handicap (G2) against open company. Though the lightly-raced 6-year-old Drosselmeyer mare was late to the races – not debuting until last May – her record now stands at 8-5-1-1 with $369,490 earned.

Ratajkowski returned $4.70 to win and $3.80 to place, while Mrs. Orb paid $10.80 to place. There was no show betting.

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