Morticia knocks ’em dead in Stormy Blues win
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Even when her biggest threat opened up a clear lead leaving the backstretch, there were no anxious moments for multiple-stakes winner Morticia and jockey Jose Lezcano as they steadily ran down Smiling Causeway to set a course record in winning the $100,000 Stormy Blues Saturday at Laurel Park.
The 5 ½-furlong Stormy Blues for 3-year-old fillies is the richest event on Laurel’s summer stakes calendar and anchored three stakes over its world-class turf course worth $250,000 in purses on the 11-race program.
Owned by G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and co-bred by Humphrey and Kentucky-based trainer Rusty Arnold, Morticia ($3.80) finished up in 1:01.29 over a firm Kelso Turf Course layout, besting the 1:01.31 set by Billy the Bull June 9. Prior to this year, the 5 ½-furlong mark of 1:01.59 was set in 2009 by Natural Seven.
Lezcano, her regular rider, shipped in for the mount on Morticia, now four-for-five on the grass including previous stakes victories in the Melody of Colors Feb. 25 at Gulfstream Park and the Soaring Softly May 20 at Belmont Park last out.
“I’ve been riding her a couple times already and she’s a very nice filly. She’s all heart,” said Lezcano, who has been aboard for all three stakes wins. “She tries hard and she wants to win all the time.”
Morticia broke running from Post 2 as the 4-5 favorite and was in front until Smiling Causeway, a recent Laurel maiden winner making her stakes debut, made a sudden surge to the lead approaching the far turn, going a quarter-mile in 22.47 seconds and a half in a sizzling 44.44.
Smiling Causeway turned for home in front as Lezcano swung Morticia to the outside for a clear run at the leader, steadily gaining down the center of the stretch and surging past inside the final sixteenth to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
It was the same margin from Smiling Causeway to third-place finisher Deer Valley, who was followed under the line by Sylphide, R Naja and Bode’s Dream. Defy, Hailey’s Flip and White Gold were scratched.
“She broke very good, my filly. She was right there. I know I wasn’t going too fast but [Smiling Causeway] came and I didn’t want to go head-to-head with her. I gave her a little breather and when I asked her at the quarter-pole she really took off,” Lezcano said. “At the quarter-pole I still wasn’t in full stride and as soon as I asked her she took a couple strides and went on.”
Morticia earned $60,000 for the Stormy Blues victory to push her career bankroll to $213,225 from six starts, four of them wins. The only blemish on her turf form is a second to La Coronel at 34-1 in the one-mile Appalachian (G3) April 13 at Keeneland, a race in which she finished ahead of multiple Grade 1 winner New Money Honey.