Eric Fein's C C's Pal capitalized on a wicked early pace and held off Island Bound at the finish to win the $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) by a neck on Friday at Saratoga Race Course.
With an abundance of early speed in the field, C C's Pal was content to rate in fourth early, 6 ½ lengths behind favored It's Me Mom, a winner of eight of her last 11 races whose determination to make the lead resulted in an opening quarter mile of :21.14. It's Me Mom paced the field through a half mile in :43.78 but tired soon thereafter, setting the stage for the closers.
C C's Pal edged closer under Junior Alvarado along the inside leaving the turn but had to angle out for racing room approaching the eighth pole. After making the lead in deep stretch, C C's Pal withstood a furious rally from early trailer Island Bound, whose late surge under Julien Leparoux came up just short at the wire. C C's Pal completed the six furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.88.
"They went real, real fast, and I was in a nice spot saving ground," said Alvarado, who also won the John's Call Stakes earlier on the card. "She really gave me a nice kick at the end."
The Honorable Miss was the sixth stakes victory for the five-year-old Alex's Pal mare, who notched the first graded win of her career in the Vagrancy Handicap (G2) on June 2 at Belmont Park. She entered the Honorable Miss off of a third-place finish in the Bed O' Roses Handicap (G3).
"It was awful quick up front," said winning trainer Rick Dutrow. "We wanted to save ground around the turn. She can lead, stalk … she fired another bullet. The instructions [to Alvarado] were outrun the inside horses, save ground around the turn and find a seam turning for home."
C C's Pal has now won nine of 31 career starts for earnings of $798,086. She is one of five winners out of the Noactor mare Roca.
HARRODS CREEK MUCH THE BEST
One race prior to the Honorable Miss, graded stakes-placed Harrods Creek scored a breakthrough stakes win under a patient ride from Alvarado in the $100,000 John's Call Stakes for three-year-olds and up who have not won a graded stakes on the turf in 2012.
Trained by Bill Mott for breeders Hiram Polk Jr. and J. David Richardson, Harrods Creek launched his bid leaving the final turn and engulfed leaders Hailstone and Tahoe Lake (Brz) in midstretch before drawing off to a 3 ¾-length margin at the finish. The five-year-old Langfuhr horse completed the 1 5/8 miles on firm turf in 2:38.55 as the 2-to-1 second choice in the six-horse field.
Harrods Creek, who entered the John's Call off of a sixth-place effort in the Stars and Stripes Stakes (G3) at Arlington Park on July 14, finished third in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap (G2) in April and also placed in the Red Smith Handicap (G2) and Valedictory Stakes (Can-G3) last fall.
The only starter out of the winning Two Punch mare Float and Sting, Harrods Creek has won four of 21 starts for earnings of $262,703.
For Equibase charts, click here.
John Cooney is a Thoroughbred Times TODAY editor