Stopchargingmaria holds on to win Alabama

08/16/2014 7:15 PM

08/16/2014 7:15 PM

Saratoga Springs, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Stopchargingmaria, sent off as the even-money favorite, gained the lead at the top of the stretch and held off Joint Return to capture Saturday's $600,000 Alabama Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga Race Course.

Stopchargingmaria, trained by Todd Pletcher for Repole Stable, was ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the 1 1/4-mile stakes versus eight rivals.

The favorite stalked the pace being set by 5-1 co-second pick Size with 30-1 longshot Miss Besilu and 10-1 Catch My Drift also pressing the pace. Stopchargingmaria was racing off the rail as the field entered the far turn.

Coming off the final turn, Stopchargingmaria and Miss Besilu were on even terms until the favorite pulled away at the top of the stretch. With a furlong to run Stopchargingmaria had a clear lead over the field.

Nearing the wire, 24-1 longshot Joint Return rallied to cut into Stopchargingmaria's advantage. The favorite held off the late running Joint Return to post a three-quarter length victory.

Miss Besilu finished third followed by Fortune Pearl, Got Lucky, America, Catch My Drift, Unbridled Forever and Size.

The time for the Alabama was 2:05.14 on a fast track.

"In a perfect world, maybe, we wouldn't have been quite so wide around the first turn," said Pletcher. "We just wanted to make sure we got her into a comfortable rhythm. We were willing to give up a little bit of ground to do that. It really worked out pretty well.

"We had to give up some ground all the way around there, and when (Miss Besilu) cut the corner it was like, 'Uh oh,' but she had plenty of time to see her and compete with her."

Stopchargingmaria recorded her third straight win of the year and pocketed $360,000. The filly has banked $1,414,000 with six wins in 10 lifetime starts.

Last month at Saratoga, Stopchargingmaria won the Coaching Club American Oaks by five lengths. She also claimed the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico back in May.

"She's in the mix (for championship honors) now," said Pletcher. "We've got to keep winning."

Velazquez notched his third Alabama win substituting for Stopchargingmaria's regular jockey Javier Castellano who was at Arlington Park. Pletcher won the Alabama for the first time last year when Castellano guided Princess of Sylmar to victory.

Stopchargingmaria returned $4.00, $3.20 and $2.70. Joint Return paid $12.80 and $7.00, and Miss Besilu paid $8.50 to show.

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