Tennis Lady has been an improving filly all summer, and yesterday she stunned 11 rivals and a betting crowd that all but ignored her with her first stakes victory.
Andrea Seefeldt guided the 3-year-old daughter of Broad Brush from off the pace and nosed the front-running Putthepowdertoit at the wire to win the $75,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Laurel.
It was another nose back to a second long-shot closer, New York invader Missymooiloveyou, with Tribulation, the even-money favorite in the Grade III race, running fourth.
With the more highly regarded half of the Robert Meyerhoff entry, Broad Gains, scratched, Tennis Lady returned $40.20 to win and set up a $4,072.40 triple payoff.
The winning time for 1 1/16 miles over the grass course was 1 minute, 42 4/5 seconds.
"I was sort of hoping this race would come off the turf because I liked her chances better," said trainer Dick Small. "And she might have been a shorter price. This was only her second time on the grass."
Small has assembled a stable that includes seven stakes winners this year, with Valley Crossing the headliner. In addition to Broad Gains and Tennis Lady, the others are Star Minister, Frottage, Dancing Douglas and Punch Line.
Tennis Lady broke alertly from the extreme outside and parked in behind the speed duel being conducted by Putthepowdertoit and Somebody Else.
She began gaining ground after the half-mile pole and headed into the straightaway behind only Putthepowdertoit.
"I just let her do her thing," said Seefeldt, who used the same strategy with Star Minister to win the Maryland Million Distaff Saturday. "We just eased along with Exotic Sea early. We went past Mario Pino [aboard Putthepowdertoit], but his filly came back on."
Pino saluted his horse for a "bang-up race. I had to fight off the speed and several other horses, so for that reason, I didn't have things my way all the way. At the end it was a close one. She ran great."
Tennis Lady is 4-for-9 lifetime. In her previous start, she finished second to Broad Gains in the Twixt Stakes at Pimlico.
NOTES: The only riding doubles were by Edgar Prado and Mike Luzzi, normally one-two in the jockey race. . . . Daily Racing Form columnist Craig McClung will hold an hour-long seminar at Laurel on Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. in the first-floor clubhouse. . . . Awad, winner of the Maryland Million Turf, is scheduled to start next weekend in the $1 million Rothmans International in Canada.