Princess Kokachin upsets Hello Beautiful in Politely

Princess Kokachin
Princess Kokachin easily won the Politely Stakes. Photo Jerry Dzierwinski.

“You gotta work hard to keep the ladies happy,” trainer Jerry Robb joked moments after Friday’s Politely Stakes at Laurel Park.

One thing’s for sure: when it comes to keeping the equine ladies happy, at any rate, Robb’s got it down pat.

Friday he saddled Princess Kokachin to a dominant — and surprising — score in the $75,000 Politely Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares at Laurel Park.

And Saturday at Laurel Park, he’ll send out multiple stakes winner Street Lute, the morning line favorite in the $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes. All of which means that after the retirement earlier this year of the mare Anna’s Bandit, an earner of more than $800,000, the team in Barn 12 hasn’t missed a beat.

The Politely figured to run through Hello Beautiful, the four-year-old Golden Lad filly trained by Brittany Russell. The 10-time winner has already earned more than $580,000, owns four 2021 stakes wins, and entered riding a three-stake win streak.

That’s what the bettors saw: they made her the 1-5 post time favorite in a race with three scratches, including the consequential absences of Street Lute and Malibu Beauty, both pointed instead to the Safely Kept.

But Robb saw something else: his own filly’s blazing early speed, and Hello Beautiful’s rail post position.

“I thought I’d outrun her,” Robb said. “My filly’s quick. I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep going with her, but I think the one-hole hurt her.”

Under regular pilot Xavier Perez, Princess Kokachin broke on top. Hello Beautiful broke well enough herself, and jockey Jevian Toledo sent her up along the inside to challenge for the lead.

But Princess Kokachin was quicker, and when Toledo eased Hello Beautiful back,things quickly went south for his mount. Perez steered Princess Kokachin to the rail to block one path for Hello Beautiful, and Never Enough Time and Paisley Singing — the latter 53-1 — moved in tandem to Hello Beautiful’s outside, pinning her, for the moment, at the rail.

That was not at all to Hello Beautiful’s liking. She began to throw her head around and quickly dropped to fourth of the five after a wind-aided opening quarter in 21.98 seconds. It never got better for Hello Beautiful, who finished fifth of the five, and an objection by Toledo against the winner didn’t go anywhere.

“She’s never had dirt [in her face],” Robb said of Hello Beautiful. “She’s got everything her own way all the time.”

Meanwhile, Princess Kokachin widened her advantage en route to a 5 ½-length victory. Running time for the six furlongs on a fast main track was 1:11.22. Never Enough Time finished second, with Paisley Singing third.

The bridgejumpers were out on Hello Beautiful, and when she finished off the board, that triggered boffo payoffs on show bets. Princess Kokachin paid $14.40 to win, but a gaudy $21.20 to show. Runner-up Never Enough Time paid $15.60 to show, and Paisley Singing returned $55.80 to show. The exacta returned $35.00 on a one-dollar wager.

The win was Princess Kokachin’s fifth in a row and seventh overall. She has now earned $218,875.

Robb had entered both Princess Kokachin, a homebred for Nancy and Eric Rizer, and Street Lute in this spot, and it appeared the duo might pack a solid one-two punch, with the former having plenty of early speed and the latter tending to run her best later. But Robb said he preferred to keep his two fillies separate, and with Street Lute a proven commodity at the Safely Kept’s seven-furlong trip — farther than Princess Kokachin has ever run — he decided to scratch Street Lute for the latter race.

Which turned out be a wise move.

“When I saw the post draw, I said, ‘If we get the break on her, we might beat her,’” Robb said. “It worked out perfect.”