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Touch Magic earns first stakes score in Silverbulletday
A more than two-month layoff proved to be no detriment to Touch Magic on Saturday as the Coteau Grove Farms colorbearer bounded home a three-quarter length winner of the $125,000 Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds.
The score, her first in three stakes tries, provided the Lion Heart filly with 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, and increased her current point total to 14 following a half-length second in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Princess in her last race on November 17.
Touch Magic got back to her winning ways in this spot after tracking behind the front-running trio of Afrodita, Finding More and Gal About Town through fractions of :24, :48 and 1:13 2/5. Those three were strung across the track exiting the final turn, but Gal About Town quickly shook loose to take over in the lane. The dual Grade 2 runner-up briefly appeared a winner but Touch Magic was just winding up to her inside.
Local rider James Graham had guided Touch Magic along the inside throughout the race and the pair maintained that spot to close ground on Gal About Town. Touch Magic pulled out the win in a final time of 1:45 for a mile and 70 yards over the fast main track, and returned $9, $4 and $2.80 as the 7-2 second choice.
"She was purchased because she hadn't done anything wrong and now she still hasn't," said Pat Devereux Jr., who took over training duties on Touch Magic from Antonio Sano following the Delta Downs Princess. "It seemed like the better she settled the better she run and I think there is better in there."
This was the first time Touch Magic had competed beyond a mile, but her trainer admitted he didn't know if she would get the distance.
"She worked like she would and, you know, that's what you hope. We've had her a month, which isn't a very long time," he said, before adding, "We knew who was going to ride her before we got off the van that's a good feeling. I'm really happy about that."
"She did everything right," Graham remarked. "When I worked her over this track a couple of weeks back she went really well and finished really strong. She did again today. Perfect trip. Finished off and galloped out good."
Touch Magic could continue on the Fair Grounds path to the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, a move that worked last year with Believe You Can, who took the Silverbulletday, ran fourth in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra and then captured the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks en route to Kentucky Oaks glory.
"We were looking for a good two-year-old filly, turning three, that we thought could get us to the Fair Grounds Oaks (on March 30). We looked at 10 fillies and had different conversations. This filly was Pat's first choice," owner Keith Myers explained. "She travels well. She got here today, walked off the van and took a nap."
"This win was great. No one ever showed so much confidence in me that the Myers bought her and we've still got to prove ourselves so we'll try to make the good moves. We'll try to do what's smart," Devereux said in regards to the February 23 Rachel Alexandra. "Still remains to be seen how often we are going to run her because she is still growing and filling in."
Gal About Town, the 9-5 favorite, took second by a length over Smitten, who was in turn a neck up on Irish Lute.
"She finished up a little tired. The winner came after me and snuck up on the inside and I think if she would've been a little closer to me and my filly she might've lost the fight," said Gal About Town's rider, Jesus Castanon. "This filly's going forward and there's nothing but good ahead for this filly. She was a lot more relaxed today in the beginning of the race. The first sixteenth she was a little rank but once I took her back she was fine. She gave a good effort."
"It's a long time before the end of March and the beginning of May," asserted Larry Jones, who trains Smitten and guided Believe You Can last season. "She's getting it figured out more all the time. Those others were far more precocious than her and this filly had a lot of ground to make up on numbers to get to their level, but we felt like she was showing us improvement and deserved this try. I'm real proud of her the way it turned out. She's got black-type on her now and she's gaining on them."
It was another neck back to Finding More in fifth, while Flashy Campaign, Estonia, Brotherhood Singer, Ciao Bella Luna and Afrodita completed the order under the wire. Seaneen Girl was scratched by her trainer and is expected to show up in the Rachel Alexandra next.
Touch Magic captured her initial two starts at Calder by a combined 6 3/4 lengths, then suffered her first loss when making her stakes debut in the Cassidy at Calder. She had a head advantage in the stretch of the Delta Downs Princess, but was just passed by Rose to Gold and wound up second on the wire in that one-mile contest.
With the winner's share of the Silverbulletday, Touch Magic has now banked $208,200 lifetime and improved her career line to 5-3-2-0.
Bred in Kentucky by Hermitage Farm, Touch Magic brought $25,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the Deputy Minister mare Unifier and counts as her third dam La Affirmed, who is noted for producing multiple Group 3-scoring sire Bernstein, Grade 2 winner Della Francesca and Grade 3 heroines Caress and Country Cat. Caress would go on in the breeding shed to foal Grade 1-winning sire Sky Mesa.
La Affirmed is a half-sister to 1984 champion two-year-old filly Outstandingly.