Princess Grace rules in G3 Penny Memorial

Tuesday’s $200,000, Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes at Parx Racing looked, on paper, to be at most a two-horse race.

But even that analysis included one horse too many.

Princess Grace, a five-year-old Karakontie mare whose credentials entering the race were better by leaps and bounds than those of her rivals, sped to the front, controlled the pace, and drew away to a dominant three-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile turf test for fillies and mares.

Running time over the firm turf was 1:43.70.

Trained by Michael Stidham for owner-breeders John and Susan Moore, Princess Grace entered the contest as a near-millionaire with four graded stakes wins to her credit. That was four more graded stakes wins than the rest of the field, combined.

While bettors sent her off at 1.70-1, though, they actually made Flirting Bridge the 3-2 favorite.

The Irish-bred Flirting Bridge had made the first nine starts of her career in Ireland and England, mostly without much success. But her first North American start, and first in the barn of trainer Brendan Walsh, had netted her an impressive allowance victory at Churchill Downs that turned the heads of the betting public.

Once the gates opened, though, Princess Grace, with Florent Geroux in the irons, was quick to assert her superiority. She was away well and quickly established the front, holding a one-length lead after a sluggish opening half-mile in 49.08 seconds. Her main rival, Flirting Bridge, was five lengths back in seventh by that time.

Rounding the far turn, a driven Love in the Air bid up to within a half-length of the leader, while Flirting Bridge, wide on the course, was within a length-and-a-half.

But just as soon as the threat materialized, Princess Grace disposed of it, opening up a decisive advantage. With a couple taps of the stick from Geroux, Princess Grace cruised home a three-length winner. Flirting Bridge was second, and Love in the Air held third, nearly four lengths behind the place horse.

Princess Grace paid $5.40 to win and topped an exacta that returned $13.80 for a two-dollar wager.

Princess Grace, who won the Penny for the second consecutive year, now has seven wins from 11 career starts. The winner’s share pushed her career bankroll to $1,086,160.

  • Princess Grace (inside) narrowly won the 2021 G3 Dr. James Penny Memorial.  Photo by Nikki Sherman/EQUI-PHOTO.
  • Princess Grace was much the best in defending her title in the G3 Dr. James Penny Memorial. Photo by Barbara Weidl/EQUI-PHOTO.