by Teresa Genaro
Just about a year ago, Sagamore Farm was wrestling with the unexpected loss of its star three-year-old filly. In a freak training accident at the farm, Millionreasonswhy, the winner of the 2011 Matron (gr. II), crashed through a rail and died of internal injuries. From six starts, she had won three times and never finished off the board.
“You can’t help thinking about it,” said Sagamore’s general manager Tom Mullikin. “But you can’t get bogged down in the past. It’s one of those inexplicable things.”
On the one-year anniversary of that promising filly’s death, another promising three-year-old Sagamore filly, this one homebred, posted a five-furlong workout at Laurel Park. Tell a Great Story got her first stakes win on June 15 in the Go for Wand at Delaware Park, dramatically getting up in the final step of the race to eke out a nose win.
The Maryland-bred by Bluegrass Cat out of the Not For Love mare Roadtohanna is three for five with a second and a third and may make her next start in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) on July 13.
Earlier this year, another of the farm’s three-year-old fillies, Walkwithapurpose, got her fifth straight victory when she won the Caesar’s Wish Stakes at Laurel Park. Following a third-place finish in the Gazelle (gr. I) at Aqueduct, she was entered in the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) but scratched after taking a bad step the day before. As she recovered on the sidelines, Tell a Great Story stepped up to carry the farm’s colors to the winner’s circle.
“It’s pretty cool how things work out,” said Mullikin. “Walkwithapurpose stubs her toe, and then Tell a Great Story wins the Go for Wand. It was really neat.”[pullquote]It’s pretty cool how things work out,” said Mullikin. “Walkwithapurpose stubs her toe, and then Tell a Great Story wins the Go for Wand.”[/pullquote]
Something of a late bloomer, Tell a Great Story made her first start in January at Laurel, winning by a handy 5 3/4 lengths. Second by a head at Pimlico in April, she drifted in the stretch, which likely cost her race.
“That’s the M.O. of Sagamore homebreds,” said Mullikin, a little ruefully. “Maybe it’s the fact that they’re born here, they’re broken here, and they train here. We’re like country bumpkins going to the big city when we get to the track, and it takes them a couple of starts to figure it out.”
On the plus side, he added, “We like to think they’re hard tryers.”[pullquote]We’re like country bumpkins going to the big city when we get to the track, and it takes them a couple of starts to figure it out.”[/pullquote]
That attitude was on display in both the Go for Wand and an allowance race in February, when, looking for running room in the stretch, she darted inside and came with some run to miss second by a neck.
In addition to stakes winners Walkwithapurpose and Tell a Great Story, Sagamore has two other stakes-placed three-year-old fillies, Hamp and Heat Press.
“We pat ourselves on the back a little bit,” admitted Mullikin. “It’s a limited sample, but we’ve got three stakes-placed fillies, two stakes winners, and a graded stakes placing. Our guys at the farm have a lot to take pride in.”
The strength of the farm’s fillies augurs well for its breeding operation, and while Mullikin looks forward to having good colts, too, he is, he said, “happy and proud” of the fillies and what they’ve accomplished, suggesting that Tell a Great Story deserves a shot in the Delaware Oaks.
“She’s been in the money in every start, and I can’t imagine a really large field, given the timing with the Coaching Club,” he said, referring to the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Saratoga on July 20.
Still, he acknowledged, the race would be a class jump for her.
“It’s worth $300,000,” he said, “and whoever gets it done that day is going to have to earn it.”
(Featured image of Tell A Great Story from Maryland Jockey Club.)