Two fillies from American Pharoah’s first crop gave their Triple Crown-winning sire a cross-country double on Sunday. Thankful showed determination in her first stakes victory in the $100,000 Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct, while fellow 4-year-old As Time Goes By – out of Take Charge Lady – galloped in a Santa Anita allowance.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Thankful was coming off a distant third in her stakes debut in the Nov. 27 Comely (G3), where she was held up off the pace. This time, jockey Kendrick Carmouche got her in the game early, and the Bass Stables colorbearer responded.
Tracking in a close second as the 2.80-1 favorite Miss Marissa posted slow fractions of :25.01, :49.96, and 1:14.95, Thankful challenged the leader turning into the stretch. Miss Marissa tried to fend her off, but Thankful outstayed her by three-quarters of a length. The 2.95 third choice negotiated 1 1/8 miles in 1:53.51 to capture the 149th edition of the Ladies.
Ujjayi rallied for third, just missing second by a neck, and Lucky Move improved into fourth. Am Impazible and 2.90-1 second choice Smooth With a Kick concluded the order of finish, and Bridlewood Cat was scratched.
“She (Thankful) warmed up good and was very happy,” Carmouche said, “so I thought that was a big plus in my favor. I wanted to ride her out of there to get up close to the pace. When I asked her, she responded really good.”
Assistant trainer Byron Hughes credited the heady ride.
“I thought Kendrick put her in a good spot right on the pacesetter’s outside hip, and not letting them get too far away from her,” Hughes said. “I thought it was a good ride by him to be able to outkick the leader.”
Miss Marissa was fighting both Thankful and the track, according to jockey Jose Lezcano.
“She’s a good-running filly and she tried hard,” Lezcano said. “The ground was a little too heavy for her today. She got to hanging around the eighth pole, but she tried hard the whole way around.”
Thankful, a $625,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling purchase, has earned $155,530 from her 6-3-1-1 record. Unraced as a juvenile, the bay broke her maiden at this 1 1/8-mile trip at Saratoga last August. She cut back to a mile and edged the talented Mrs. Danvers in a Belmont Park allowance, but that rival turned the tables in the Comely.
Bred by Profoal Partners 2 in Kentucky, Thankful is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Brazen Persuasion as well as stakes scorer Behold De Buy. Their dam, the Cat Thief mare Beholden, is herself out of Grade 3 vixen Godmother from the family of Winter Melody and Ocean Knight.
Santa Anita’s 8TH Race
As a daughter of American Pharoah and multiple Grade 1-winning Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, As Time Goes By might have labored under the weight of expectations. But judging by the way she demolished an entry-level allowance, the Coolmore homebred appears poised to live up to her exalted bloodlines.
Trained like her sire by Bob Baffert, As Time Goes By has gone off as the odds-on favorite in all four starts. The dark bay made her career debut Aug. 23 at Del Mar, where she placed third after breaking a beat slow. A similar rookie mistake was a factor when As Time Goes By was runner-up to stablemate Himiko at Santa Anita Oct. 18.
As Time Goes By put it all together last time at Los Alamitos in another 6-furlong maiden, powering four lengths clear on Dec. 13. Continuing her upward curve on the step up to a mile here, the 7-10 favorite won for fun.
Under confident handling by Joel Rosario, As Time Goes By was merely warming up as she stalked Miss Megan through splits of :23.34 and :47.06. The winner took charge with ease at the 6-furlong mark in 1:11.56, and the stretch run might as well have been a victory parade. As Time Goes By kept widening her margin despite being on cruise control, ultimately crossing the wire nine lengths in front while clocking 1:36.70.
This Tea closed from last to take second by 2 1/2 lengths from Miss Megan. Next came Paid Informer and Paige Runner. Matera was a vet scratch.
As Time Goes By is likely to seek black-type, maybe even extend the family’s Grade 1 record down the road. Her famous half-brothers – champion Will Take Charge and Take Charge Indy – emulated their dam by becoming Grade 1 winners. Another half-sibling, Charming, produced champion Take Charge Brandi and multiple Grade 1 star Omaha Beach.