A horse named for Mike Repole’s wife’s spending habits has developed a habit of her own.
Stopchargingmaria followed pacesetter Size through the first mile before a strong stretch run to win the Grade I Alabama on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. It was the third straight win for the daughter of Tale of the Cat; the last two in Grade I races at Saratoga made her the third consecutive filly to sweep the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama. With her $360,000 share of the $600,000 Alabama purse, she has now earned more than $1.4 million with a record of 6-1-1 from 10 career starts, five of those wins in graded stakes.
The class of the last three wins has Repole talking about sending her to Parx Racing on Sept. 20 for a possible showdown with Untapable, the leader of the 3-year-old filly division.
“I would say, after the last three races, this filly could be the best 3-year-old filly in the country, bar none,” Repole said. “I think we’re going to go to the Cotillion, most likely, and Untapable is going to go out there. You know what’s best about horse racing? You get to decide it on the race track.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher was less committed to the idea, and said while the Cotillion is a possibility, so is the Beldame at Belmont Park on Sept. 27.
When Stopchargingmaria broke from post 8, the even-money favorite was bumped by Size, who took the lead through the first six furlongs in fractions of :24.35, :49.92 and 1:15.71. Stopchargingmaria sat off Size’s outside hip until getting a head out front just before the quarter pole.
Size, one of a trio saddled by Bill Mott, then disappeared to the back of the field. As Stopchargingmaria passed Size to the outside, Miss Besilu snuck inside along the rail and looked like a late challenger. However, no sooner had the duo passed Size than Miss Besilu also began to back off.
“She was a little bit keen the first part of the race,” Velazquez said. “Today, I was actually taking her back, trying to get her to relax behind other horses. Finally, past the half-mile pole, I gave her her head and let her hit her stride. All of a sudden, the horse on the lead started getting out, and somebody else got through on the rail — I was pretty mad about it — but she showed up and put up a good fight. Every time I asked her for a little bit more, she was giving it to me.”
Joint Return was full of late run, and under jockey Kendrick Carmouche, found her way off the rail in the final turn and responded well once she had open ground in front of her. She was second, beaten by three-quarters of a length.
“I pretty much got a perfect trip all around there,” Carmouche said. “Once I angled out, man, it was just too late. Once she got clear, she really wanted to run. All in all, she ran a very good race.”
Stopchargingmaria returned $4.00, $3.20 and $2.70 in the win. Joint Return paid $12.80 and $7.00, while Miss Besilu paid $8.50 to show. Miss Besilu also was third to Stopchargingmaria in the CCA Oaks.
Repole also swept the 2011 Grade II Jim Dandy and Grade I Travers with Stay Thirsty, and has now won the top four route races for 3-year-olds, male or female, at Saratoga.
“As a kid in Queens, I could never afford to get up here; I never had a car that could go three hours,” Repole said. “I always watched the big races.
“For someone who has been in the game for 10 years, and only five with some quality horses, you want to win the Jim Dandy, you want to win the Travers, you want to win the Coaching Club, you want to win the Alabama. How lucky and blessed am I to say, ‘Wow, I’ve not only been in these races, but I’ve won all four?’ I mean, it might be a good day to retire.”