HENDERSON, KY – John Gunther’s homebred Tiger Moth swung seven-wide while rallying from the back of the pack to capture Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Groupie Doll at Ellis Park.
Jockey Corey Lanerie allowed the 5-year-old mare to settle back in tenth early while Put Da Blame On Me led through splits of :23.18, :45.79, and 1:10.37. Lanerie began advancing Tiger Moth between horses on the far turn, then was forced to swing her outside of six foes entering the stretch run. Digging in under steady urging, the Brad Cox trainee was able to outkick the equally-late-charging Walkabout and complete the mile-long race in 1:36.30.
“Brad and his assistant, Tessa, told me it would probably be better if I came around with her because she would be back and has a grinding run,” Lanerie said. “I went really wide, a lot wider than I normally would. I felt like I went a mile and 1/8. When I saw (jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr.) get through on Walkabout, I said, ‘I’m not going to beat him.’ But once we straightened out for home and my mare got on her right lead, she just proved that she was going to get him and that she was the best horse today. She covered a lot more ground and was still able to get it done.”
Entering the race, Tiger Moth had only hit the board once before in a graded stakes race, getting third in the Grade 2 Azeri at Oaklawn Park in March, though she was coming off of a last-out victory in the $100,000 Mari Hulman George Stakes at Indiana Grand.
“It looks like her form keeps getting better and better,” Lanerie said. “Brad and his team have done a great job. This was the first time I saw her and sat on her. Glad to be a passenger, and glad they let me ride her.”
Walkabout’s 3/4-length deficit was especially hard for Hernandez, Jr., who finished second in the $50,000 Cliff Guilliams earlier in the day and was the closest runner-up possible in the Grade 1 Haskell aboard McCraken at the end of July.
“Being second gets a little old,” he said Hernandez. “I really thought when we got through that we had it done, but that other horse has really gotten good right now and was just able to get up at the end. I thought they were the best two horses in the race, on paper, and it turned out that way. I just wish we could have gotten there in front.”
Danzatrice was able to get up for third after rallying between horses late. Pinch Hit was a head in front of She Mabee Wild, with Put Da Blame On Me, Cced, Adore, Hone In, Brooklynsway, and She Takes Heart completing the order of finish. Student Body was scratched.
Tiger Moth returned $9.40 to win, $4.20 to place, and $3.20 to show. Walkabout brought back $5.20 to place and $3.80 to show, while Danzatrice paid $5.20 to show.