Lexi Star speeds to lead, wins

Horse racing

February 25, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN REPORTER

With little speed in the $100,000 Maryland Racing Media Handicap yesterday, Lexi Star did the unexpected - bolting to the lead and staying there through the finish.

"She's usually happy to hang around third or fourth and then make her move," said Sue Quick, who owns the filly with her husband, Stephen. "This time the lead was an option because there was not a lot of speed in the race. I was worried [It's True Love] would push her into going too fast, but she was content to stalk."

It's True Love hung around a length behind Lexi Star through the final turn and then put on a drive at the top of the stretch. But it wasn't enough to overtake Lexi Star, who simply picked up her pace and pulled away for a 6 1/4 -length victory in a final time of 1 minute, 51.27 seconds.

"She does things a lot easier now," said Ryan Fogelsonger, Lexi Star's regular jockey. "It worked out after the first quarter. I knew I had it in about 25 and I figured now we just have to hold on, and she did it pretty easily. I gave her a little encouragement at the top of the stretch. I just wanted to keep her mind focused, because I knew down the stretch people would run at her. From the three-eighths pole on, she was on cruise control."

It was Lexi Star's second straight stakes win and the second time she had relegated It's True Love to second, having dictated the same finish in the Nellie Morse Stakes on Jan. 27. Lexi Star paid $4.80, $3and $2.20. It's True Love returned $3.40 and $2.60, and Raging Rapids, who finished 5 1/4 -lengths farther back in third, paid $2.80.

Lexi Star has seven wins in 14 starts and winnings of $299,420, after earning $60,000 yesterday. She won her first stakes at Delaware in the Just A Kiss Stakes on Nov. 19 and has had what her trainer, Chris Grove, calls a different attitude ever since.

"She's getting closer to being ready [for a graded race]. It took a long time to get here. She was a very immature filly. But now that we finally have Ryan riding her every time, we are making great headway. She's really matured."

Grove also trains area star Silmaril, partly owned by the Quicks, and in both cases the Frederick native has brought the horses along slowly. And he has spent considerable time making sure the two don't meet in a race or even on the track in the morning during training.

"Right now, they both think they are goddesses," he said, indicating that he hopes to keep it that way. "I don't rush my horses. They generally hit their best stride at 4 or 5, and they stay around a long time. That can be good or bad, depending on what the owners want. In this case, we're all agreed to do what's best for the horses."

Note -- Before the race, the Maryland Racing Media Association honored owner-trainer King Leatherbury and Ah Day, the organization's Maryland-based Horse of the Year for 2006, with a Waterford crystal trophy. As a 3-year-old, Ah Day (sired by Malibu Moon) won seven of 15 races, including six stakes, and $455,560. Leatherbury said Ah Day "will have to travel" for his next race, but the trainer said he doesn't know where that will be.sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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