Great Spirit stretches out to win Bishop Memorial

You can consider that a passed test. Stretched out to two turns for the first time in her young career, Great Spirit passed with flying colors, pressing the pace and then drawing away to win the $75,000 Sylvia Bishop Memorial Stakes for West Virginia-bred three-year-old fillies by 2 ½ lengths.

Running time for the seven furlongs on a fast main track was 1:26.44. For comparison purposes, Seneca Rocks, who won last fall’s WV Department of Tourism Breeders’ Classic Stakes, the three-year-old filly race on WVBC night, ran one race prior to the Bishop Saturday, winning an allowance/optional claimer in 1:26.21.

When the gates opened in the Bishop, Lightnin Runner, who edged Great Spirit by a nose in April’s Its Binn Too Long, zipped right to the front to try to take it to her rival. But, with regular pilot Jose Montano in the irons, Great Spirit immediately attached herself to the leader, and those two led, with just a half-length separating them, through a quarter-mile in 23.08 seconds and a half in 47.18.

Entering the far turn, Great Spirit turned up the pressure, putting a head in front, and then opening a sizable advantage as Lightnin Runner faded from contention. Off as the second choice, Lightnin Runner finished fifth, nearly six lengths in arrears of the winner.

Lucky Blonde and Juba’s Parade ran on late, closing from the rear for second and third, respectively. But neither was ever a threat to the winner, even as she failed to switch leads in the stretch.

Great Spirit, off at 6-5, paid $4.40 to win. The exacta returned $11.90 on a one-dollar wager.

Great Spirit now has five wins from seven career outings, and the winner’s share upped her bankroll to $170,233. Great Spirit is a homebred for Jill Daniel and is trained at Charles Town by Crystal Pickett.

A half-sister to the late, great one-turn sprinter Dr. Feelgood, Great Spirit served notice she’ll be a force in her division at both one and two turns


Great Spirit
Great Spirit won the Sylvia Bishop Memorial Stakes. Photo by Coady Photography.