Kathleen The Queen, ridden by Walter Guerra, grabbed the lead shortly after the gate opened and led the entire way to win the $40,000 Alma North Handicap yesterday at Timonium Race Course.
Guerra, with an astute ride, had Kathleen The Queen cruising in front and still had plenty left to hold off the late-closing Big Big Affair at the wire by a head.
Kathleen The Queen, who is trained by Joe Ayres, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute, 47 3/5 seconds.
Guerra, who flew to Baltimore from Florida yesterday, said: "This was one of most exciting races I've ever ridden in. When she took the lead easily like she did I felt she wouldn't give it up. When other horses came at her she just laid her ears back and went on."
Ayres praised his horse and Guerra: "The mare has been training real well, but I think this was a case of a jockey fitting a horse perfectly. Guerra gave a perfect ride. The horse works very well for him."
This was the first time that Kathleen The Queen, normally a sprinter, ran a distance race.
"I wasn't sure I wanted to run her in this race, but several people convinced me that she could handle the distance."
The victory was the third in the last four starts for Kathleen The Queen and fourth in nine races this year.
Castillo takes jockey lead
Freddy Castillo rode a pair of winners yesterday to wrest the jockey standing lead from Alberto Delgado.
Castillo, who won on Akuda Matada ($3.80) in the third race and April Diva ($5.40) in the fourth, has 11 winners, one more than Delgado who was blanked on seven mounts yesterday.
The $75,000 Queen Charlotte Handicap will be the race simulcast to Timonium today.
For 3-year-old and up fillies and mares, the race will be run over 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
The live feature today will be the Housebuster Purse at four furlongs.
Likely favorites in the Monmouth race are Far Out Best and Seewillo. Monmouth closes its meeting today.