River Gal Bests The Boys In Laurel’s Jamestown Stakes

Morgans Ford Farm’s River Gal, a half-sister to multiple stakes winner River Deep, continued the family tradition by surging past pacesetter Ready to Run in mid-stretch and going on to a 2 ½-length victory in the $75,000 Jamestown Friday at Laurel Park.

The 12th running of the 5 ½-furlong Jamestown for Virginia-bred/sired 2-year-olds highlighted a 10-race card on the eve of Laurel’s ‘Class on the Grass’ program that features six stakes, four scheduled for its world-class turf course, worth $650,000 in purses led by the $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) and inaugural $150,000 Bald Eagle Derby.

Ridden by Angel Cruz for trainer Phil Schoenthal, River Gal ($9) completed the distance in 1:05.43 in a race rained off the All Along turf course to a fast main track. It was the first win in three starts for the bay daughter of Grade 1 winner Blame, coming five days after River Deep added the Bert Allen Stakes to his victory in the Aug. 4 Hansel, also at Laurel.

“River Deep has turned into a real quality horse, and when this filly came in she’s just been professional and straightforward from day one so we were hoping she’d follow in his footsteps,” Schoenthal said. “It’s been fun for us here.”

River Gal was fifth in her debut behind subsequent stakes winner Burnin Ring O Fire going 5 ½ furlongs on the Laurel turf Aug. 10. She was stretched out to a mile for an open maiden special weight that was also moved off the turf Sept. 8, setting the pace along the rail before tiring to be third.

Cruz kept River Gal in the clear two wide as even-money favorite Ready to Run broke running and went a quarter-mile in 22.86 seconds and a half in 46.48. River Gal ranged up alongside around the turn and steadily edged clear once straightened for home, as Ready to Run held off Tolaga Bay by head for second. They were followed by Perfect Exchange, Bear Trappe, Drosselmoon and Payneful. Promisemethemoon was scratched.

“Coming off the mile I knew she was going to have some punch in the stretch, at least. I told Angel, don’t be surprised if you’re closer to the pace than you think you’re going to be, and it worked out just like that,” Schoenthal said. “They sat just off that horse and managed to get by them in the stretch. We’re pretty happy with the trip.”

River Gal, out of the Congaree mare River Fancy, got a three-pound weight break as one of two fillies facing males in the Jamestown.

“She’s a big, strong filly that weighs a lot and in these 2-year-old races I’m not sure there a huge amount of difference, especially when you look at the field and they’re all maidens anyway,” Schoenthal said. “For $75,000 and for black type, we’re going to take a shot with a filly, for sure.”

Colts Neck Stables’ Introduced kicked off Friday’s card with an impressive three-length victory in her second career start, sitting just off the pace before taking command in upper stretch and sprinting clear as the 2-5 favorite in the $33,000 waiver maiden claiming event for 2-year-old fillies.

A Maryland-bred daughter of El Padrino who fetched $310,000 at the March 2-year-old in training sale in Ocala, Fla., Introduced ($2.80) ran 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04.64 over a fast main track. Lookin Sharp, a $175,000 yearling by 2010 Preakness (G1) winner and two-time champion Lookin At Lucky, was second.

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