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Sep 09, 2011

Another filly wins Woodward Stakes



Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Four-year-old filly Havre de Grace stepped out of her comfort zone Saturday and was able to defeat male thoroughbreds for the first time in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. She joins Rachel Alexandra as the only females to ever win the prestigious race.

Two years ago, leading three-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra beat the boys in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward to make racing history.

Havre de Grace, owned by Rick Porter, went off as a slight 2-1 favorite over Flat Out. Less than $6,000 separated the two in the win pool by the bettors.

Getting out of the gate first among the eight starters was 7-2 third choice Rule. Joining him on the lead was Havre de Grace and Mambo Meister.

Rule took the field around the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch. Racing in second was Mission Impazible followed closely by Convocation and the favorite.

Around the final turn Rule and jockey Javier Castellano had the lead on the inside as Havre de Grace, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, moved into second on the outside. Also gaining ground was Flat Out as Mission Impazible dropped back.

Coming into the stretch Rule still had the lead with the filly to his outside in second and Flat Out close behind in third. With a furlong to go Havre de Grace caught and passed Rule and was able to repel the challenge by Flat Out.

Trained by Larry Jones, Havre de Grace posted a 1 1/4-length victory over the five-year-old Flat Out with Rule holding onto third and Mission Impazible finishing fourth.

Rounding out the order of finish were Giant Oak, Ice Box, Mambo Meister and Convocation.

Havre de Grace covered the 1 1/8-miles in 1:49.18 on a fast track.

"She's really special," said Porter. "She's the nicest horse I've ever had."

Porter also campaigned Eight Belles, Hard Spun and Jostle.

The filly earned $450,000 with Saturday's win and picked up her seventh career victory in 13 starts. The daughter of 2005 Woodward champ Saint Liam has banked $1,986,175.

The filly's schedule had to be changed this week because of last weekend's hurricane.

"We had to alter her training this week due to dear old Irene," said Jones about the hurricane that hit the northeast last weekend. "She didn't get her customary Monday blowout where she gets to ripping and romping and doing her 57s. We had to gallop that day and were lucky to find a place to gallop."

Havre de Grace was coming off her only loss of the year to Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap on July 16. Earlier this year she captured the Azeri, Apple Blossom and Obeah Stakes.

In 2010, the filly won the Cotillion at Parx Racing with second-place results in the Go For Wand, Delaware Oaks and Alabama, the last two behind Blind Luck. She then finished third behind Unrivaled Belle and Blind Luck in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.

Havre De Grace returned $6.50, $3.50 and $2.10. Flat Out paid $3.70 and $2.50, and Rule paid $2.70 to show.

Earlier on the program, 9-5 favorite Ask the Moon went wire-to-wire in winning the Personal Ensign Stakes for fillies and mares. Javier Castellano guided the six-year-old to a 2 3/4-length win in the 1 1/4-mile race. Trained by Marty Wolfson, Ask the Moon covered the distance in 2:04.21.

In the seven-furlong Forego Stakes, 3-1 second choice Jackson Bend posted a 3 1/4-length victory under jockey Corey Nakatani. The four-year-old, trained by Nick Zito, stopped the timer at 1:22.08. It was the second stakes win at Saratoga this season for the chestnut colt, who won the opening day James Marvin Stakes.

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