Sagamore Farms' Millionreasonswhy powered to the front and was hand-ridden to victory in Saturday's feature at Laurel Park, the $100,000 Wide Country Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
In her first start since August, the winner of the Matron Stakes (Grade 2) and runner-up to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner My Miss Aurelia in the Adirondack Stakes as a juvenile made a smashing return to the races with a 11/4 -length score over post-time favorite Dance to Bristol. The winner covered the seven-furlong distance in 1 minute, 24.08 seconds and paid $4.20.
Horacio Karamanos rode the winner for the first time for trainer Ignacio Correas IV.
"She's never run more than 61/2 [furlongs] before," Correas said. "She lost to My Miss Aurelia in a very hurting defeat at Saratoga. We were looking for seven-eighths to start her back. She was doing awesome, every morning. Dance to Bristol was a tough cookie to beat."
The daughter of Grand Slam posted two blistering workouts at Laurel last month, with Karamanos in the irons, as preparation for her 2012 debut.
"She is working so good in the mornings," Karamanos said. "The only instructions were to let her relax in the first part, let the filly run, if she gets tired don't hit her too much. She needs the race, but she runs like she did not need the race. At the quarter-pole, I asked her to go and she ran big."
Correas indicated his star would likely make her next start in the G3 Comely Stakes at Aqueduct on April 7 with the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 4 as the ultimate goal.
"I think that she is a one of a kind, and I'm lucky to have something like that in my hands," Correas added. "I always thought she was something very special, and I am glad she is back. It is very nice to see she is still the same kind of horse she was at 2 because some don't make the natural progression at 3. We are going to do this step by step. The Comely is a mile, and if it goes the way it should then we'll point to the Oaks. That doesn't mean she has to win but she finished good today and was able to relax, which will help me prepare for the next start."
Karamanos and Correas are natives of Argentina and have been friends for more than 25 years.
"I have known him since I was a kid, so I am so happy to win races for him," Karamanos said.
Millionreasonswhy improved her record to three wins in four career starts with earnings of $178,340.
Xtra Heat a Hall finalist
Laurel-based sprinting sensation Xtra Heat is one of the finalists for the National Museum of Racing's 2012 Hall of Fame.
Purchased at the Timonium sale by co-owners Kenneth Taylor, Harry Deitchman and trainer John Salzman Sr., the daughter of Dixieland Heat won 26 times in 35 career races for nearly $2.4 million.
Xtra Heat earned the Eclipse Award for top three-year old filly in 2001, winning four graded races and was in the money all 13 times. She gained the national spotlight with two superb efforts against the boys: a gallant second in the $1,000,000 Breeders' Cup Sprint (Grade 1) in October and a gutsy third in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G1) a month later.
"She was a runner from the day we got her," Salzman said. "You could tell she was nice filly. She took us to Dubai, Florida. We went everywhere with her, and she was always on the front line."
Xtra Heat retired after a score in the G2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap in 2003, her 25th stakes victory, moving her ahead of 1970's champion Susan's Girl for most added-money victories by a filly or mare. Ten of the wins were in graded company.
Other finalists include 1991 De Francis Dash winner Housebuster.
The results of the voting on contemporary candidates will be announced April 23. The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs on Aug. 10.