In our new Big Move of the Week, we feature one horse each week who impressed and might warrant a spot on your watch list.  For the week ending December 27, that horse is a three-year-old filly named Athena.

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ATHENA FILE

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  • Last race: Sent off at 5.60-1 in Saturday’s Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes at Laurel Park, Athena tracked the pace from fifth for the first half-mile, just a couple of lengths behind the early leaders.  Under jockey Julian Pimentel, the three-year-old filly, facing older, searched for running room entering the lane, and then moved slightly outside before shifting back towards the rail.  For a moment, it appeared she would not have enough to catch leader Paulassilverlining or the late-running Bound, but she kicked it into gear and closed sharply to win by a length on the wire.
  • Three straight: It marked the third straight win for the Helen Pitts trainee — quite a turnaround from the way her career started.  Athena won just one of her first seven starts, against maidens at Churchill Downs, and was in the money just one other time, finishing third, but 11 behind the winner, in her career debut.  But she won a first-level allowance at seven furlongs on November 8 and followed that up with another allowance score on November 25 before adding her first stakes win Saturday.  The win gave her four victories overall, from 10 starts, and pushed her earnings past $170,000.
  • Sharp finish: Running time for the one-turn mile was 1:37.85, versus 1:37.41 for Noteworthy Peach, the three-year-old gelding who won the Jennings one race earlier.  Athena was in third, three lengths behind the leader, with an eighth of a mile to go; the distaffers covered that last eighth in 12 3/5 seconds, with Athena making up three lengths in that time.  They ran the last quarter mile in 24.74 seconds — very slightly faster than Noteworthy Peach did (24.77).
  • Happy homecoming: Pitts, the trainer, is a Maryland native and was excited to register a stake win in the Free State.  “It means everything in the world to be able to come home and win a race like this,” she told interviewer Stan Salter after the race.  She also indicated that a return visit might be in order, for the mid-February, Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Stakes.
  • Connections: Athena is trained by Helen Pitts for owner Mary Grum.
  • Breeding: Athena was bred in Kentucky by Gary Chervenell. She is a three-year-old filly by Street Sense out of the Rock of Gibraltar mare Race Rocks.
  • Video notes: In the video, Athena is almost directly behind the leader at the head of the lane, looks briefly to come outside, then goes down to the rail.  Her rider is wearing a green cap.

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(Music used in this video: First Call, by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)