By Tom LaMarra
The $100,000 Penn Ladies Dash (Filly and Mare Sprint–Turf Division) June 2 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course drew a full field of 12 including morning-line favorite Morticia, a G. Watts Humphrey-owned filly trained by George “Rusty” Arnold.
Morticia, based in Kentucky, just missed winning the five-furlong Unbridled Sidney Stakes at Churchill Downs May 12. She has been worse than third only once in 12 starts, and never finished worse than third in her 11 starts on the grass.
Just Talkin, owned by Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, D. Simon and Bethlehem Stables, was entered in The Very One at Pimlico but scratched when the race came off the turf. Trained by Jason Servis, the 5-yaer-old mare easily won a turf sprint allowance at Gulfstream in her last start in March.
The Maryland Horse Breeders Association is offering bonuses tied to MATCH standings, and there are two Maryland-breds in the Penn Ladies Dash: Richard Vermillion’s Rocky Policy, who would make her first start of the year, and owner/breeder Winners Circle Partners VIII’s Daylight Ahead, who finished sixth in The Very One and is on the MATCH points board.
Rocky Policy, trained by Dale Capuano, finished third in the Sensible Lady Turf Dash last September at Laurel Park and fell a neck short of winning an allowance race at Saratoga Race Course last summer. The mare hasn’t won on grass but has two seconds and three thirds.
Daylight Ahead, who won the state-restricted Jameela Stakes at six furlongs on the turf at Laurel last year, is a dual bonus qualifier. She also is Delaware Certified–horses qualify under a residency requirement and are eligible for overnight purse bonuses at Delaware Park–and that program also is offering bonuses based on points accrued in the MATCH Series.
By Tom LaMarra
Morticia, a 4-year-old filly by Twirling Candy, passed on a stakes at Churchill Downs to run at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course June 2 and it paid off with a victory in the $100,000 Penn Ladies Dash.
Morticia, owned by G. Watts Humphrey and trained by George “Rusty” Arnold II, was also entered in a $65.000 turf sprint stakes at Churchill Downs the evening of June 2. That race was against males, while the Penn Ladies Dash is in the MATCH Series Filly and Mare Sprint–Turf Division.
Morticia, who now has seven wins on the grass and never has been worse than third in 12 starts on the surface, took the early lead and fought off a stubborn Just Talkin to win by one length over a fast-closing Rocky Policy. Just Talkin held for third.
The winner, ridden by Jose Lezcano, paid $3.60 and covered the five furlongs on the turf in :56.35.
“I’m glad to see her get it done,” said Arnold, who noted Morticia had raced very well but just came up short in her previous three starts. “Her trip was good today. I was really confident (about her ability) at Churchill last time out but another filly just beat her.
“We’re thinking about taking her to Saratoga, but the MATCH Series is a really good think that we’d like to support. So we’ll see.”
Morticia earned 10 points in the Filly and Mare Sprint—Turf Division. The next races in the division is the $100,000 Turf Amazon Stakes at Parx Racing July 7.
Track officials reported strong handle on the two MATCH races and other races on the program, which included five turf races. A few days before the Penn Mile card the weather forecast called for potentially heavy rain, but storms stayed south of the Harrisburg area all day.