Two divisions of Ta Wee Stakes held
The fourth running of the $100,000 Ta Wee established history in the state of Indiana. With 44 nominated and 23 entered, the race was split into two $100,000 divisions, which marks the first time a stakes race has ever produced two divisions in the 22-year history of pari-mutuel Thoroughbred racing in the state of Indiana.
In the first division, Hilarious Brown and Jockey Corey Lanerie showed quick speed from the starting gate in the one-mile turf event for good positioning heading into the first turn, being joined by Mama Joyce and Fernando De La Cruz on the outside, passing through early fractions of :23.68 and :48.14.
Mama Joyce briefly got a head in front of Hilarious Brown but her time on the lead was limited. Hilarious Brown fought back on the inside as a slew of horses began to get momentum started for the stretch drive, including race favorite More Than Most and Robby Albarado, who swung wide before the stretch. In the stretch the lead changed hands several times in close quarters, leaving Nawlins Kitty and James Graham and Inconclusive and Miguel Mena to battle it out on the front end. After a disqualification, Inconclusive was forwardly placed to the win over All Aces and Jack Gilligan, who finished second. Hilarious Brown finished third.
The win for Inconclusive was the third of the year in seven starts and her second in a row, linking her win in the Ta Wee Stakes to a win in the $75,000 Northbound Pride Oaks at Canterbury Park. The win also increased her career bankroll to more than $193,000 for Owners Carolyn Friedberg and Jeff Larson, who purchased the three-year-old chestnut daughter of Include as a yearling from the Keeneland September Yearling Sales for $45,000. Richard Scherer trains the three-year-old filly.
Inconclusive paid $20.00, $10.80 and $5.40 across the board as the third choice of the 10-horse field. The time of the race was 1:37.92.
In the second division, Queen Caroline and jockey Alex Cintron made their Indiana debut a winning effort in the Ta Wee Stakes, the third straight win for the daughter of Blame. Queen Caroline got away close and remained in the middle of the pack that was stalking the front runner, Fourth Watch and Rodney Prescott, as they dictated the pace of the race through fractions of :24.34 and :49.24. Frozen Hannah was sitting right on the outside of Fourth Watch waiting for the right moment to advance while the rest of the field began to tighten the gap. Cintron, who appeared to be stuck on the inside amidst horses down the backstretch, was able to get Queen Caroline out and moved the Virginia bred filly up into contention for an attack from the outside. La Piba and Fernando De La Cruz appeared to have the most momentum and was advancing quickly on the far outside before the stretch arrived.
In the stretch, Queen Caroline advanced into the lead and then began to fend off the late challengers. In the end, she was able to take control of the race and post the win by three-quarters of a length over Havana Dream and Joe Rocco Jr. Try Your Luck and Corey Lanerie rallied up to finish third.
It was the second consecutive stakes win for Queen Caroline and Cintron, winning the $60,000 Nellie Mae Cox Stakes at Pimlico before shipping to Indiana. Trained by Michael Matz, the filly is how three for five in 2016 and increased her bankroll to more than $138,000 with her win in the Ta Wee. Queen Caroline is owned by first time owner Amy Moore, who purchased the filly at the Keeneland Yearling Sales for $170,000.
“This is certainly a great way to start off (in Indiana),” said Moore. “This filly is very special because she is the first I’ve ever owned. I picked her out of the Keeneland sale.”
Moore went on to explain how Queen Caroline ended up in the Ta Wee Stakes in Indiana from their home base in Maryland.
“We were looking for a stakes race that she (Queen Caroline) would be competitive in,” said Moore. “She drew in well and looked like she would fit in this race nicely. We’ve had no discussion on where she goes from here. I will leave that up to Michael (Matz).”
Queen Caroline was the second choice of the 10-horse field, paying $8.60, $4.80 and $3.00. The time of the race was 1:37.76, almost matching the time of the first division of the Ta Wee Stakes.
This is the second straight year that Cintron has ventured into Indiana to win the Ta Wee Stakes. He was successful in grabbing the title in 2015 aboard Tiger Ride for trainer H. Graham Motion and William Shively’s Dixiana Farms LLC, who owns Havana Dream, the second place finisher to Queen Caroline in the 2016 edition of the race.