HOUSTON, TX – John Gunther’s homebred Tiger Moth saved ground early and needed every ounce of reserved energy late to outkick the favored Actress and spring the upset in Sunday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.
Unhurried out of the far post in the eight-horse field under Florent Geroux, Tiger Moth watched from the back of the pack as Adore and Promise of Spring duked it out on the front end through opening fractions of :23.98, :47.99, and 1:13.21. Tiger Moth began making forward progress into the far turn and hit the top of the stretch five-wide, then rallied furiously down the outside of the stretch alongside Actress. A photo finish ultimately determined that the Brad Cox-trained Tiger Moth had crossed the line first by a neck in a final time of 1:46.01 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“I called Florent this morning to make sure he would get her to the outside,” said Cox, who was not at the track. “That’s how she likes to run. She continues to be a very nice filly for Mr. Gunther.”
Actress finished a length clear of third-place Martini Glass, who was similarly up just in time to neck out her placing ahead of Sandy’s Surprise. Fifth went to Ready to Confess, with Valadorna, Adore, and Promise of Spring completing the order of finish.
The winner’s purse share of $240,000 increased Tiger Moth’s career earnings to $642,107. The 6-year-old daughter of Street Sense now has a record of 22-6-5-3, including one previous graded stakes score, last year’s Grade 3 Groupie Doll at Ellis Park on August 13.
“She won a Grade 3 at Ellis,” said Ricky Giannani, Cox’s assistant trainer. “Granted, it wasn’t against the same company, but she’s always had it in her. She got the right trip and proved she can run against good fillies.”
Tiger Moth returned $36.60 to win, $8.60 to place, and $5.20 to show. Actress brought back $2.60 to place and $2.10 to show, while Martini Glass paid $2.80 to show.