HONORABLE MISS HANDICAP | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 6 FURLONGS
Eric Fein's C C's Pal took full advantage of sizzling early fractions in Friday's Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga, coming with a furious late run down the middle of the track to post a neck victory over fellow rallier Island Bound. The five-year-old mare has now won or placed in all 10 starts since being transferred to the barn of trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., and stopped the clock for this six-furlong, fast track event in 1:09 4/5.
C C's Pal settled into midpack under jockey Junior Alvarado as Winning Image and 9-5 favorite It's Me Mom gunned to the front when the gates opened. It's Me Mom quickly grabbed command and proceeded to set blistering splits of :21 and :43 3/5 down the backstretch. Roman Treasure, who had been tracking in third, moved up to the outside of Winning Image rounding the turn, but soon found herself with plenty of company as the rest of the field engulfed the tiring front runners.
Maple Forest was first to strike, slipping through on the rail to take a brief lead entering the stretch, but C C's Pal and Island Bound were just beginning their runs. The duo flew down the center of the lane, with C C's Pal just getting the best of her rival.
"It was awful quick up front," Dutrow remarked. "We wanted to save ground around the turn. She can lead, stalk … she fired another bullet. The instructions (to Alvarado) were outrun the inside horses, save ground around the turn and find a seam turning for home."
"This filly is just amazing," Alvarado said. "It's a little easier for you when you ride this kind of horse. Rick Dutrow really had her ready, too.
"My filly has enough speed to be close if they are going slow, or if they're going fast I know I'll be in a good spot. That's pretty much what happened. They went real, real fast, and I was in a nice spot saving ground. She really gave me a nice kick at the end."
Sent off the 3-1 second choice in the eight-distaffer field, C C's Pal paid $8.50, $4.50 and $2.80. Island Bound took second by 1 1/2 lengths and it was a blanket finish for third, fourth and fifth as Beat the Blues had a neck to spare on Belle of the Hall, who in turn was a head up on Maple Forest on the wire. Roman Treasure and It's Me Mom came next, while Winning Image brought up the rear of the field.
C C's Pal broke her maiden and took an allowance at Retama Park in 2009 by a combined 26 lengths, but it wasn't until her four-year-old campaign that the bay daughter of Alex's Pal earned her first stakes win. That came in the Monmouth Beach Stakes last season while under the tutelage of trainer Derek Ryan, but just three races later C C's Pal found herself running, and winning, for the Dutrow barn.
Her first start for her new conditioner came as a victory in the Miss Golden Circle at Belmont Park, and C C's Pal would go on to also capture the Garland of Roses Stakes, Ladies Handicap and Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap. The latter two races occurred this year, as did placings in the Distaff and Barbara Fritchie, a pair of Grade 2 Handicaps; the My Juliet Stakes; and most recently the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap.
In all, C C's Pal has racked up 19 top-three finishes against black-type company, and improved her career record to 31-9-7-7, $798,086 with Friday's score.
Bred in Florida by Beth Bayer, C C's Pal was a bargain $7,500 OBS Fall Mixed weanling. She is out of the unraced Noactor mare Roca, who in turn is a daughter of multiple Grade 2-placed stakes victress C. C.'s Return. C C's Pal's third dam is Grade 3 winner Window Seat and her fourth dam is Grade 2 winner Sandy Blue.
Sandy Blue is the ancestress of 1995 champion turf mare Possibly Perfect, Grade 1-winning sire Eddington, and Grade/Group 3 winners Promontory Gold, Makhlab and Miserden.