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OZONE PARK, NY – Bass Stables’ Thankful overtook Miss Marissa late in the lane to capture Sunday’s $100,000 Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Thankful entered the 9-furlong test for fillies and mares 4 years old and up from a wide-rallying third in the 9-furlong Comely (G3) on November 27 at the Big A when piloted by Big A winter meet-leading rider Kendrick Carmouche for the first time.
Carmouche kept Thankful closer to the pace in the rider’s return engagement, settling in second position outside of last year’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) winner Miss Marissa, who commanded the opening 1/4-mile in 25.01 seconds and the 1/2 in 49.96 on the fast main track.
Miss Marissa, with Jose Lezcano up, continued to dictate terms into the final turn as Thankful pressed into contention on the outside with Smooth With a Kick following her run and Ujjayi in range as 3/4 ticked by in 1:14.95.
Carmouche asked Thankful for more as Miss Marissa led the field into the homestretch arriving at even terms at the 1/8 pole and powering clear to score by 3/4 of a length in a final time of 1:53.51.
The victory marked the third win on the card for the Pletcher-Carmouche tandem, having previously scored with Too Boss in the opener and Bourbonic in Race 3. Carmouche completed a four-win day at the Big A by guiding Foley Square to victory in the day’s final race. He now leads the winter meet standings with 34 wins.
Assistant trainer Byron Hughes was full of praise for the aggressive steer by Carmouche.
“I thought Kendrick put her in a good spot right on the pacesetter’s outside hip and not letting them get too far away from her,” said Hughes. “I thought it was a good ride by him to be able to outkick the leader.”
Carmouche, who won this event in 2017 with Wonder Gal, said he felt confident heading into the gate.
“She warmed up good and was very happy, so I thought that was a big plus in my favor,” said Carmouche. “I wanted to ride her out of there to get up close to the pace. When I asked her, she responded really good.”
Miss Marissa held off a late surge from Ujjayi to complete the exacta by a neck. It was a further two lengths back to Lucky Move in fourth, with Am Impazible and Smooth With a Kick rounding out the order of finish. Bridlewood Cat was scratched.
Lezcano said a deep track may have been Miss Marissa’s undoing.
“She’s a good-running filly and she tried hard,” said Lezcano. “The ground was a little too heavy for her today. She got to hanging around the eighth pole, but she tried hard the whole way around.”
Bred in Kentucky by Profoal Partners, Thankful banked $55,000 in victory while improving her record to 6-3-1-1. The 4-year-old American Pharoah bay returned $7.90 for a $2 win bet.
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