ELMONT, N.Y. – Strike Charmer stalked the pace and put in a strong finish for a 2 ¼-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up on the Widener turf at Belmont Park.
The Mark Hennig-trained gray mare hit the wire in 1:39.22 for 1 1/16 miles to pace a field of eight. Strike Charmer to record her second career graded stakes victory.
“She broke sharp and I was happy with the pace,” Hennig said. “She really kicked well and I thought she put in a strong finish. She looks like a filly that’s coming the right way. She’s showing it too. I wasn’t happy with her hair coat this winter. She’s never had a good hair coat her whole life, but now she does. We made some changes shoeing-wise. She’s a happy horse right now.”
My Miss Sophia, the 9-5 favorite trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, started strong from the outside post position and led at the quarter, half and three-quarter mile marks, setting fractions of 23.29, 46.31 and 1:09.83.
But Strike Charmer, Recepta and Tapitry, who is trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, made stretch-drive surges before Strike Charmer pulled away. The Courtlandt Farms-owned Strike Charmer registered her first graded stakes victory since the 2014 Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap and her first win since November 26 in an allowance race at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“She broke so good, I thought I was going a little fast,” said winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. said. “I tried to wait as long as I could and I thought the pace in front of me was going quick. When I asked her, she was there for me. Mark has done a great job with her. She was ready. She’s nice. I rode her last time [in the fall] and I won on her and she won again with me today, so I guess she likes me, and I like her too.”
Strike Charmer, off at 9-1, returned $20 for a $2 win wager. The 6-year-old improved to 5-4-3 in 18 career starts; all coming on turf.
“We’ll take it one race at a time,” Hennig said. “We didn’t know if we were going back to listed races or going forward. We won’t go looking for [turf champion] Tepin, but we’ll find a spot.”
Tapitry finished a half-length ahead of the Jimmy Toner-trained Recepta.
My Miss Sophia, Ticking Katie, Miss Atomic Bomb, Ball Dancing and Sistas Stroll completed the order of finish.
The Beaugay continued a packed slate at Belmont that included four graded stakes races on Saturday, starting witht he Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian won by Cavorting and continuing with the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan and the Grade 1, $400,000 Man o’War.