Making up ground with every stride down the middle of the stretch, Martin Schwartz's High Ridge Road kept her perfect record at Laurel Park intact with a dramatic neck victory over Grade 1 winner By the Moon in the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) on Saturday at Laurel Park.
The 65th running of the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie for females 4 and up was among six stakes worth $850,000 in purses on the 10-race Winter Carnival program and one of two graded events, along with the 41st running of the General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up.
The Winter Carnival's total handle was a record $4.9 million. It was the second straight win over By the Moon and fourth victory in as many tries at Laurel, all with jockey Horacio Karamanos aboard, for the Linda Rice-trained High Ridge Road, who was cutting back to a sprint for the first time in 16 months.
Sent off as a narrow third choice at 3-1 in a field of eight, High Ridge Road ($8.20) completed the distance in 1 minute, 22.50 seconds over a fast main track. By the Moon, second by a half-length to the winner in the Thirty Eight Go Go on Dec. 31 at Laurel, was 1½ lengths ahead of 2016 Fritchie runner-up Clothes Fall Off in third.
"I've been a little nervous about being in the one post position all week since they drew the race and was concerned about that, but I thought Karamanos negotiated himself out of the one-hole pretty well," Rice said by phone. "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."
In other races:
•A slight stumble out of the gate wasn't enough to slow Raymond Mamone's Imperial Hint, who went straight for the lead and turned away a brief challenge from multiple stakes-winning millionaire Stallwalkin' Dude in the stretch to win the $250,000 General George (G3). Coming exactly four years to the day he was foaled by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds Inc. in Florida, Imperial Hint ($7.60) earned his third stakes victory and first in graded company, and also gave Luis Carvajal Jr. the first graded stakes win of his training career.
"This was a very nervous race for me and my client. I had never won an graded stakes race before, so after the way he won I'd be more relaxed because this is the tough one to get," Carvajal said. "I always thought he was a graded stakes horse. You know, it's funny. I was walking out of the paddock when the horses were already on the track and I hear a few people say, 'Look at the favorite. He's humungous. Look at the five horse. He's so small. He has no shot at all.' But I had in mind, 'Yeah, you don't know the heart he has.'"
Imperial Hint and jockey Julian Pimentel, aboard for the first time, overcame their early bobble to set a demanding pace of 22.61 seconds for the quarter-mile and 45.28 for the half, and was still there after going six furlongs in 1:08.99. Afleet Willy, who entered the race off three straight wins, gave a challenge on the inside before giving way to even-money favorite Stallwalkin' Dude, kept in the clear three wide by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
•Four weeks after closing to be second behind Page McKenney in the Native Dancer, late-running Bodhisattva turned the tables on the popular claimer-turned-millionaire with a 22-1 upset of Saturday's $75,000 John B. Campbell.
•Marathon Farms Inc.'s O Dionysus rolled to the lead on the far outside approaching the stretch and steadily separated from his rivals down the lane to a convincing three-length victory in the $75,000 Miracle Wood.
•Katherine Ball's China Grove made her sophomore debut a winning one, surging past previously undefeated favorite Crabcakes nearing the eighth pole to earn her first career stakes victory in the $75,000 Wide Country.
Maryland softball team stuns No. 1 Florida, 4-2
Visiting Maryland earned its first victory of the season by stunning No. 1-ranked Florida, 4-2, at the Aquafina Invitational. The Terps improved to 1-8, and the Gators, who are top-ranked in the ESPN/USA Softball and USA Today Coaches Poll, fell to 8-1, "This was an incredible team win," coach Julie Wright said after Maryland's first victory over a ranked opponent since May 2012 against Florida State. Madison Martin went 3-for-4 for the Terps and earned the save; Hannah Dewey pitched 51/3 innings for the victory.
College baseball: Sophomore second baseman Nick Dunn had three hits and three RBIs, but No. 12 Louisville got past No. 22 Maryland, 10-7, on Saturday night in Clearwater, Fla. The Terps (0-2) outhit the Cardinals 12-10 but could not overcome five errors. Redshirt senior Brandon Gum and junior Will Watson both had two hits in their first career starts for Maryland. Junior Taylor Bloom of Crofton, who gave up six runs (three earned) in three innings, took the loss.
Women's college basketball: Host Towson (11-14, 4-10 Colonial Athletic Association) fell behind early and lost, 80-65, to Drexel (19-6, 10-4) on Friday night. The Tigers' Sianni Martin had 15 points, and Raven Bankston added 14.
Women's college tennis: Mount St. Mary's was picked in the NEC preseason poll to finish sixth in the eight-team league.