Saturday, December 20, 2003 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 20, 2003 . . . Jockey Mark Johnston and Leading Lioness took advantage of fast fractions and a changing track to win the $50,000 Gowell Stakes today at Turfway Park. Off at 25-1, the two-year-old filly paid $52.60 in her first stakes victory.
Ready and Tough, the post time favorite at 3-5, led from first call but conceded the win in late stretch. Ridden by Willie Martinez, she finished 1-1/2 lengths back in second. Papa Sids Girl, making her first start since April, was third.
Playing to speed through the sixth race, the track started leaning toward closers in the seventh. The trend was made to order for Leading Lioness, who most recently finished seventh in the Jessamine County Stakes on the turf at Keeneland.
The six-furlong Gowell was Leading Lioness’s first race since her return to trainer Robert Pincins. She had run for a time under Tom Amoss’ tutelage after beginning her career with Pincins. She is owned by Russell Hale and Michael Hamilton.
“They wanted to try her on turf,” said Pincins, “and then when I got her back this was the only spot we had to run her. I liked the way she closed fast. Closers were closing a little better the last three races. She’s never been close to [setting the pace in] any of her races.”
Leading Lioness broke eighth from her position on the rail and steadily moved up. Third at the stretch call, she required little prompting to glide past the pacesetting Ready and Tough. “I knew the track was changing to where closers could come from off the pace,” said Johnston. “The track played well to the way the horse ran. It didn’t hurt that the 11 [Ready and Tough] and the 9 [Keep This Cat] set such a fast pace. I knew when I turned for home that I had a lot of horse. Mr. Pincins said this filly would run gutsy, and when I got in the lane I could feel that she was going to.”
Papa Sids Girl, who made up 7-1/4 lengths in 2-1/2 furlongs to win her only previous start, tried a similar strategy today. Eighth after four furlongs, she was sixth at the top of the stretch and finished 2-1/2 behind the winner.
Completing the order of finish were Oro’s Sugar (Jeff Johnston), Swift Trick (Rodney Prescott), Slewpy’s Storm, who unseated rider Michael Morgan in the gate, A Call for Gertie (Orlando Mojica), Keep This Cat (Perry Ouzts), and Storming Way (Rafael Bejarano). Down by the Sea and Roller Girl were early scratches. Beginning the day rated good, the track was deemed muddy with the start of the third race.
Ouzts was riding in place of Jason Lumpkins, who was kicked in the chest by his mount after being unseated in the paddock yesterday. He took off his next mount and resumed riding the rest of the day, but took himself off his mounts today. His status for Sunday has not been decided.
Leading rider Rafael Bejarano will ride Sunday’s card and then fly home to Peru for the holidays. He will return to Turfway on January 2, the second day of the Winter/Spring Meet.
Racing continues Sunday at Turfway beginning at 1:10 p.m. EST. The track is closed Monday through Thursday for the Christmas holidays and will reopen Friday, December 26. Post time from the 26th through January 1 is 1:10 p.m. EST. The track will be open Monday and Tuesday, December 29 and 30.
Turfway's Winter/Spring Meet begins January 1 and continues through April 1. After the holidays, the track will return to its regular post time schedule of 5:30 p.m. EST Wednesday through Friday and 1:10 p.m. EST on weekends.