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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Novogratz Racing Stables’ Ring Leader extended her undefeated streak to three with a hard-fought score in Saturday’s $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Bobbling slightly while breaking from post 2 under Joe Talamo as the 4/1 second choice, Ring Leader recovered to run three-wide while rating off of the leaders. Just ahead of her, Miss Firecracker and Sassy Seneca dueled through opening fractions of :22.48 and :45.80.
Putting forth her bid near the top of the stretch, Ring Leader shook clear near the 1/8 pole, then had to fend off a late challenge from the 3/5 favorite Specially. The bettors’ choice made her move too late, however, as Ring Leader held sway by a 1/2-length at the wire.
The McLean Robertson trainee completed the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track in a final time of 1:10.46.
“We had a beautiful trip,” Talamo said. “She sat right off the pace and relaxed really well. She did all the work down the lane. I was very impressed.”
Specially was 5 1/2 lengths clear of Wasabi Girl, while Sassy Seneca and Miss Firecracker weakened to complete the order of finish.
Ring Leader’s win followed a 6-furlong local romp in the mud on January 24 and a maiden-breaking debut effort at Canterbury Park on June 22, 2019. The 3-year-old daughter of Paynter, purchased for $80,000 as a yearling, has now earned $143,400.
“She’s improving,” Robertson said. “Obviously, she went from winning by a head at Canterbury to winning by 5 (lengths) at Oaklawn. That’s a big move. Usually, when they make that big of a move, they make another one. I don’t think it’s foolish to be high on a horse like that. They always come again. When they come that much from 2 to 3, they always come again. It might not be next time, might be in the fall or next year, but they come again. They get better.”
Ring Leader returned $10 to win and $3.60 to place, while Specially brought back $2.60 to place. There was no show betting.
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