Subscriber login

Welcome to our new site. You will need to reset your password if this is your first time logging in. Please click here to reset your password.
Local Sports
What you need to know for 01/16/2017

Free as a Bird charges to victory in Caress

Free as a Bird charges to victory in Caress

Trainer Ian Wilkes got a new look at one of his charges Friday, and she looked pretty good on her wa

Trainer Ian Wilkes got a new look at one of his charges Friday, and she looked pretty good on her way to the wire.

Used to getting out well and sitting just off the pace, 5-year-old Free as a Bird broke slowly and was seventh early in the Caress, a $100,000 stakes at 5 1⁄2 furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares 4 and up. She and jockey Joel Rosario swung wide around the turn and into the stretch, then closed for the win by three-quarters of a length.

“You learn something every time you run,” Wilkes said. “At least she’s not one-dimensional and has to be close; she can close from out of it, or she can lay close. It just depends on the pace.

“I probably thought she’d be a little closer in the race, from the inside, but she broke a step slow. They’re going a lot faster, but I think she’s very comfortable with horses in front of her.”

Believe in Charlie and Heaven Knows What took the field through a hot first quarter-mile in :21.37 and a half in :43.98. Jewel of a Cat and Munnings Sister were a few lengths back, and Jewel of a Cat had some late kick on the inside.

As the pacesetters slowed, Free as a Bird’s outside closing move brought her to the front, and she paid $5.40, $3.20 and $2.40. Jewel of a Cat finished a neck ahead of Madame Giry to pay $5.50 and $3.90, while Madame Giry returned $3.00.

Making her turf debut, Munnings Sister was last of the nine runners.

Free as a Bird is now 4-2-0 from six starts this year. In the last two years, she’s 5-4-2 from 12 starts.

“The filly’s doing extremely well, and this year, she’s stepped her game up,” Wilkes said. “She’s matured. She’s a 5-year-old and getting a little better.”

Wilkes said he will aim her next at the Smart N Fancy on Aug. 25, another $100,000 51⁄2 -furlong turf run, this one for fillies and mares 3 and up.


Full sister to Rachel Alexandra, 3-year-old filly Samantha Nicole was fourth in the third race, a maiden race for fillies and mares 3 and up across 1 1⁄8 miles of main track.

Unraced as a 2-year-old, this was just her second start. She was second in her debut at Fair Grounds in February.

The Stonestreet Stables-owned filly went right to the front Friday and led through quarter-miles of 24.66, 24.84 and 24.40 before seeing a strong challenge from a trio of horses in the stretch. She kept pace with the late chargers for a few jumps before being overwhelmed.

You have 0 articles 1 articles 2 articles 3 articles 4 articles 5 articles 6 articles 7 articles remaining of Daily Gazette free premium content.

You have reached your monthly premium content limit.

Continue to enjoy Daily Gazette premium content by becoming a subscriber.
Already a subscriber? Log In