Saturday, March 12, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., March 12, 2011 – A canny ride by Ben Creed helped Spring Party earn her first stakes win, the $50,000 Wintergreen Stakes at Turfway Park on Saturday. Coming into the stretch, the six-year-old mare raced all out for the wire and got home a head before the aggressively closing La Gran Bailadora. Hot Hot Mama was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third. Final time for the mile race was 1:39.99
War Tigress set the moderate pace, getting the first two quarters in :24.55 and :49.11. In the meantime, Spring Party had settled into fourth going into the first turn as La Gran Bailadora staked out her own position at the back of the field of nine older fillies and mares.
"That's about where I like to sit," said Creed, the meet's leading rider. "That's the way it looked like it was going to play out on paper. I kind of wanted to be a little bit farther back but she has a real light mouth and I couldn't take much more of a hold on her without her throwing her head. So I just let her settle in right where she was and I was finally able to set my hands down and let her get into her own groove."
War Tigress clocked the third quarter in 1:14.19 but then gave up the lead to Hot Hot Mama, who had stalked her from the outset. By then, though, Spring Party and La Gran Bailadora were both on the move, Spring Party swinging outside and La Gran Bailadora coming hard between horses.
"Around the turn, every time I smacked her and chirped to her, she responded, a little bit more each time," said Creed, "So I'm thinking I still got some horse. When we turned for home she hesitated to switch leads, but as soon as she did she was gone.
"I knew that horse (2-1 favorite La Gran Bailadora) was going to be closing hard, so I started asking (Spring Party) to run at the 3/8ths pole, trying to get the jump on her. It worked out about that far," Creed laughed, holding his hands a head's length apart.
War Tigress was fourth, well clear of West Court, Hungry Tigress, Queen of Arts, Midway Holiday, and Jonmil's Edge. Miss Luann and Sweet Temptress were scratched by their trainers.
Spring Party was the 7-2 second choice and paid $9, $3.40 and $3.80.
By Smart Strike out of the Ocean Crest mare Surf Club, the Kentucky-bred Spring Party was claimed by trainer Eric Reed for owner Jerry Jamgotchian the only time she ran for a tag, five starts back at Keeneland. She has earned $158,397 in 15 starts, with five wins, three seconds, and two thirds to her credit.
The team of Jamgotchian, Reed, and Creed won the Wintergreen last year with Rinterval.
Racing continues at Turfway on Sunday at 1:10pm. This week the track adds live racing on Thursday at 5:30pm as well, making up a card lost to a snowstorm in January.