May 17, 2022

High Ridge Road stays perfect at Laurel, wins Barbara Fritchie

High Ridge Road has won all four starts at Laurel, including two stakes (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

It was a close-run thing, but High Ridge Road maintained her perfect record over the main track at Laurel with a come-from-behind victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) for fillies and mares.

Breaking from post 1 but deftly taken off a dead rail down the backside by Horacio Karamanos, rated in fifth as Wonder Gal and Rowd E Allie traded leads through splits of :22.70 and :45.34. After a half-mile, however, High Ridge Road came under a hard ride while, 6 1/2 lengths ahead, 7-5 favorite By the Moon was poised to take the lead from Rowd E Allie.

“She made me work at the three-eighths pole, she was a little bit lazy,” Karamanos said.

Swung five wide for the stretch run, High Ridge Road finally got going as By the Moon opened up a two-length in mid-stretch. In a repeat of their last meeting in the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go over a mile on New Year’s Eve, High Ridge Road caught up with the favorite late, denying By the Moon by a neck in a time of 1:22.50 over a fast track.

“In the middle of the turn I thought we might be in trouble; she wasn’t making up any ground but then as soon as he got her to the outside in the stretch and she switched her lead she’s really got a great closing kick so I was very excited,” trainer Linda Rice said.

“Frankly, the seven-eighths is a little short for her and there was pretty nice fillies that were in front of her. They were going pretty fast and my filly ideally wants to run a little farther with a little softer fractions. She was struggling to keep up with that pace but it worked out for us in the end.”

The 3-1 third choice in a field of eight, High Ridge Road paid $8.20. By the Moon was 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Clothes Fall Off. Wonder Gal, Regia Marina, Sweet On Smokey, Takrees, and Rowd E Allie completed the order of finish.

Owned by Martin Schwartz, High Ridge Road captured one of her first five outings under former trainer Chad Brown, but has won four of six since joining Rice in early 2016. The five-year-old Quality Road mare won two Laurel allowances, by six and nine lengths, respectively, than ran fourth in the $111,000 Lady’s Secret at Monmouth Park in July.

Following a five-month layoff, High Ridge Road fell a nose short of winning the Go for Wand H. (G3) at Aqueduct, but rebounded to take the aforementioned Thirty Eight Go Go by a half-length. Her record now stands at 11-5-2-3, $413,990.

The Kentucky-bred is out of Detect, by Devil’s Bag, who has also reared the multiple stakes-winning Senor Rojo and the Grade 1-placed Connie and Michael. This family includes multiple Grade 3 winners Discover and High Stakes Player, and further back 1975 champion three-year-old colt Wajima.

In the $250,000 General George (G3) for the boys, Imperial Hint led throughout and turned back even-money favorite Stallwalkin’ Dude to take the seven-furlong test by 2 1/4 lengths under Julian Pimentel for his third consecutive win.

Also the winner of the $75,000 Fire Plug over six furlongs on January 14, Imperial Hint sped through fractions of :22.61 and :45.28, and finished up in 1:21.20. Owned by Raymond Mamone and trained by Luis Carvajal Jr., Imperial Hint paid $7.60 as the 5-2 second choice.

Stallwalkin’ Dude was followed by 37-1 chance Never Gone South, who nipped Ocean Knight by a neck for third.

This was the third career stakes win and first graded for the four-year-old son of Imperialism, who was bred in Florida. Out of Royal Hint, by Lahint, he’s now earned $349,805 from a mark of 10-6-1-0.