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FRANKLIN, KY – Tobys Heart was all heart in winning the $500,000 Nelson’s Green Brier Whiskey Music City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs, a victory that was the fourth for leading rider Joel Rosario on Sunday and the second during the six-day meet for trainer Brian Lynch.
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Starting in the middle of the field of 11, the filly owned by Terry Hamilton, Gary Barber, and Lynch was toward the back early in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint on a firm course. Rosario guided the 6/5 favorite toward the rail to save ground, which proved to be the winning move before the field hit the downhill turn.
“It was perfect,” Rosario said. “The horse ran really well there. I was waiting to see if something would open up for her. They just decided to stay off the rail, and she just outran them when she was clear.”
Winging it out front from the start was 30/1 Risky Reward with Luis Saez. After setting the pace until the top of the stretch, enough room opened up along the fence for Tobys Heart to scoot through and fire out for a 2 3/4-length victory over fast-closing Alwayz Late and Umberto Rispoli in 1:14.30.
“She’s been running with some serious horses and a little cut back in distance really fell into play today,” said Lynch, who previously saw Tobys Heart finish third in the Lake George (G3) at Saratoga going a mile.
“It was great to get Joel on her,” Lynch said of having Rosario riding her for the first time. “Definitely horses are running for him at the moment. He rides this course as good as anybody. We’re definitely thrilled to have him on board.”
“I listened to what Brian had to say,” Rosario said. “It looked like we were in a real good spot, with a little speed in front of us. She was handling the grass nicely and came home with a strong run.”
Runner-up jockey Rispoli, who won the inaugural edition of this race last year with LNJ Foxwoods’ Lighthouse, said his filly put in a strong performance. “I had a good trip. I was between the two horses to follow, the Wesley Ward and Brian Lynch.
“Joel is riding on fire, so everything is opening up for him,” Rispoli continued. “When you ride like that with so much confidence, it helps you a lot. I had just a little bit of traffic in the middle of the stretch. But that didn’t bother me at all.
“She came through. She finished up really well,” he said. “It was the same race I won last year. I was trying to make it a double. It didn’t work out. But I’m very happy with the way she ran.”
“We ran well,” said trainer Bill Mott of Alwayz Late’s race. “We had a good trip. We got through. The filly ran very willingly and she was closing at the end. We kind of ran out of ground. The winner was probably the best today at that distance, and our filly ran very well. Very pleased. No excuses.”
Tobys Heart paid $4.60, $3, and $2.80 while earning $291,400. Always Late returned $7.40 and $6, while Risky Reward, who hung on to finish a 1/2-length back in third, paid $11.80. Fractions for the race were :21.99, :44.93, and 1:08.43 before the final time of 1:14.30.
Purchased for $45,000, Tobys Heart now has 4 wins in 8 starts. “She’s a very shrewd purchase and she has panned out to be a very nice filly for us,” said Lynch, who also won the $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Sprint Stakes on Sept 9 with Red Danger — his first 2 Kentucky Downs stakes victories. “Hopefully there is more to come with her. She was undefeated as a 2-year-old and she is just starting to wind into a real good 3-year-old campaign.”
It marked the final victory for Rosario during the 6-day meet — he closed out his assignments by finishing sixth with Micheline in the $550,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon.
And what a week he had: from 53 mounts, he won 17 times, with 6 seconds and 4 thirds, while bringing home $2,952,097 in purses. He had a win percentage of 32%.
“I have to thank all the people who gave me the opportunity at Kentucky Downs – the trainers, and owners, who gave me this chance,” he said. “I really feel blessed.
“This has been a very special week.”
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