Thrilled survives stretch duel, inquiry to take Plum Pretty

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Jen Caldwell

March 20th, 2016

Michael B. Tabor’s Thrilled entered Sunday’s $200,000 Plum Pretty S. owning three runner-up efforts in stakes contest, and the bay filly would not be denied again in just her second try on the main track.

With Javier Castellano in the saddle, the Todd Pletcher trainee successfully battled Family Tree into submission in the lane and then survived a stewards inquiry to earn her first stakes victory.

Thrilled found herself chasing Family Tree when the gates opened on the 1 1/16-mile contest as that rival headed straight to the front from her inside post. Family Tree posted splits of :24.13 and :47 .72 while holding a comfortable margin on Thrilled.

That margin was reduced to nothing rounding the final bend when Thrilled moved up to run in tandem with Family Tree heading into the stretch. The pacesetter refused to yield, and the duo appeared to come in contact a couple times in the lane. Thrilled suddenly surged forward in the shadow of the wire to get the two-length Plum Pretty victory in a final time of 1:43.35 over the fast Sunland Park dirt.

The stewards took a long look at the stretch run but eventually declared no change.

The Plum Pretty took the place of the cancelled Sunland Oaks after an EHV-1 outbreak forced a quarantine of Sunland Park. The quarantine was finally lifted on March 9, but track officials had already decided to cancel both the Sunland Park Oaks and Sunland Derby.

Those two races awarded points toward starting berths in the respective Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1), and were replaced with the points-less Plum Pretty and Sunland Park Festival of Racing S.

Thrilled paid $4 as the even-money favorite in the Plum Pretty while Family Tree wasn’t far behind in the wagering at 1.10-1. K P Wildcat followed another 7 1/4 lengths behind in third and L J’s Awesome was a distant 24 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth. Sweet Bea completed the order under wire three parts of a length behind L J’s Awesome.

Thrilled made her racing debut on turf at Saratoga and captured that maiden special weight by a nose last August. The Kentucky-bred miss stayed on the grass for runner-up efforts in the P.G. Johnson S. and Miss Grillo (G3) in September, then suffered her only unplaced run to date when 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Keeneland on October 31.

Thrilled headed back to New York after her failed try in Kentucky but switched to the dirt for her final start of 2015 in the Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct. The bay lass did well in second that day and is now 6-2-3-0, $293,800, lifetime with Sunday’s score.

The first registered foal out of the Grade 3-winning Giant’s Causeway mare Excited, Thrilled’s third dam is stakes winner Drina, who is best known for producing multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Spain.

Thrilled photo courtesy of Sunland Park/Coady Photography