Missy's Mirage shows she's for real


Earlier in their careers, Devilish Touch and Withallprobability showed enough promise to be considered potential standouts in this year's 3-year-old filly division.

But they were overshadowed at Pimlico Race Course yesterday by a late bloomer who runs hard, runs often and just plain runs.

That filly, Missy's Mirage, surged to a 2 1/2 -length victory in the $100,000 Columbia Stakes -- a Grade III race, and one of just two graded stakes at the current Pimlico meet -- continuing her climb into the division's elite.

Herb McCauley rode the filly in place of Julie Krone, who "had a prior commitment in New York," said McCauley. "My filly had a great outside trip. That's where she wants to be."

Devilish Touch was the 4-5 favorite in the six-furlong Columbia, but the speedy filly was outrun for the early lead by Withallprobability, ridden by Chris McCarron. After Corporate Fund took a short lead from Withallprobability in the early stretch, Missy's Mirage rallied past them for the victory.

Withallprobability held for second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Corporate Fund.

Missy's Mirage, a New York-based filly trained by Allen Jerkens, has won seven of 16 starts. From her past 10 starts, she has five wins and four seconds. She finished in 1 minute, 10 2/5 seconds over a fast track and paid $6.20 to win.

Withallprobability, the winner of her first four starts and second in such prestigious races as the Kentucky Oaks and Fantasy Stakes, had slumped in recent months, so the Columbia was "a " big step forward," said McCarron.

For Devilish Touch, a winner in four of her first five starts and an impressive winner in her prior start at Laurel Race Course, there was "no excuse," said jockey Marco Castaneda. After tracking the leaders, Devilish Touch finished last in the field of five.

NOTES: Angel Cordero Jr. has taken ill and will be out for about 5 days, so he will not ride Strike the Gold in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes today at Belmont Park. "[Cordero] was stricken with some kind of pneumonia," said Strike the Gold's trainer, Nick Zito, who later named Pat Valenzuela to replace Cordero. ABC-TV (channels 13, 7) provides live coverage beginning at 3, with post time set for 3:40. . . . The Columbia was your basic pit stop for McCarron, the California-based star, who rides Farma Way in the Woodward. D. Wayne Lukas trains Farma Way and Withallprobability. . . . The Futurity Stakes is being run as a secondary feature to the Woodward at Belmont today. Salt Lake, 9-length winner of the Hopeful at Saratoga in his last, is favored over 6 other 2-year-olds. There is no simulcasting to Pimlico/Laurel. . . . Fly So Free is the morning-line favorite over Dance Smartly in today's Molson Million at Woodbine in Canada, but Fly So Free is not a definite starter after pulling up lame after a gallop Friday morning. The Maryland colt, Tong Po, is listed at 30-1 in a field of 10. No simulcasting to Pimlico/Laurel. . . . In the Curl is the topweight in today's $40,000-added Park Heights Handicap on the Pimlico grass course, but the 7-year-old mare may not run if rain fails to move the race to the main track. . . . Today's eighth and 12th races at Pimlico are the first to allow as many as 14 runners in "overnight" turf races. Because of the new toteboard, which accommodates 14 betting interests, up to 14 will be allowed in turf races around 2 turns and in dirt races of 1 1/8 miles and up. Laurel has allowed 14 entrants in most races for several years.

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