Prodigy Doll to point for G3 Barbara Fritchie
HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing’s 6-year-old stakes-winning mare Prodigy Doll is being pointed to a third straight run in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) following her dominant 4 ½-length victory Sunday at Laurel Park.
“That’s our target,” trainer Phil Schoenthal said of the seven-furlong Fritchie for older female sprinters Feb. 17, which co-headlines a Winter Carnival program with the $200,000 General George (G3) for 4-year-olds and up, also at seven-eighths.
Sharing the program are the $100,000 John B. Campbell for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles and $100,000 Nellie Morse for fillies and mares 4 and older at 1 1/16 miles. Nominations for all four races are due Saturday.
Prodigy Doll has run fifth in the past two editions of the Fritchie, entering its 72nd year. She was beaten 4 ½ lengths at odds of 42-1 in 2022 by Glass Ceiling, who won Aqueduct’s Distaff Handicap (G3) in her subsequent start.
Last year, Prodigy Doll went off at 11-1 and wound up 4 ¼ lengths behind multiple stakes winner Swayin to and Fro. Stakes winners Fillie d’Esprit and Moody Woman, respectively second and third, won their next starts. Those are two of her three graded tries; she also finished eighth in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness at Pimlico in 2021.
“She always tries hard and runs well, it’s just a matter of finding the right group, I guess,” Schoenthal said. “I guess we’ll see.”
Prodigy Doll followed last year’s Fritchie running second in the six-furlong Correction at Aqueduct. Schoenthal, based the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., gave the daughter of champion Shanghai Bobby time off after she was third in an open allowance in June at Pimlico.
“She’s a filly that does not get along well in the warm weather. She just doesn’t seem to perform well and just kind of melts a little bit when it starts getting warm,” he said. “We’ve kind of learned that and turned her out over the summertime and brought her back for fall, winter [and] spring campaigns. Our plan was to bring her back last fall and try and gear her up for another run at the Fritchie and then, depending on how things went, retire her and get her started on a broodmare career or keep her going if she’s in good form.”
In her comeback race Dec. 1 at Laurel, Prodigy Doll ran an even fourth in a six-furlong optional claimer. She was entered to run in the $100,000 What a Summer, postponed six days from its original Jan. 20 date by winter weather and ultimately canceled due to lingering effects from the storm. That led Schoenthal to put her in the Jan. 28 allowance at Laurel.
“We’ve just been taking it step by step. Her comeback race was disappointing. I made a trainer error in misjudging her fitness level. I thought she was plenty fit off four or five workouts, and she ran about half a mile and packed it in. She just got tired,” Schoenthal said. “She came out of that race and breezed four, five, six more times. We tried to enter her a few times and got unlucky with the weather.
“I thought that by running her in the allowance race, we would get a much better handle on if she was still the same horse we thought she was, or if she wasn’t. She could run fourth in the stake, beaten four lengths, and you wouldn’t really know,” he added. “We kind of thought with the allowance race, either she would win nicely and give us confidence again or if she didn’t, then we knew that her broodmare career was sooner rather than later.”
Prodigy Doll found herself three wide behind horses in the early stages of her most recent effort, was forced to steady near the five-eighths pole, but rallied three wide to collar pacesetter Fuhgeddaboudit and draw off with authority under jockey Jeiron Barbosa.
“We were obviously happy to see her run well, and she ran kind of how I expected,” Schoenthal said. “I was a little bit nervous going into the race. The way the racetrack was playing, it looked like speed and the rail were really good. I was worried she might get caught behind the pace and not be able to make up ground wide, but Barbosa worked out a good trip. He wound up close to the lead and it worked out really well.”
Prodigy Doll has been third or better in 12 of 24 career starts with $315,520 in purse earnings. Winner of the 2021 Cheryl S. White Memorial at Mahoning Valley for her previous trainer, Midwest-based Ben Colebrook, and came to Schoenthal at the start of 2022.
“The owner had his racehorses spread out with a couple different trainers. He had sent me a group of horses that had been originally based in Pennsylvania when I moved to Fair Hill. This particular horse, they had shipped her from Kentucky for several races in the Mid-Atlantic, and it looked like there were a lot of races in the Mid-Atlantic for her. He just kind of felt, in talking with his trainer in Kentucky, that maybe shipping her up here and having her be located more where she’s going to run was going to be a better plan for her,” Schoenthal said. “She’s kind of a neat horse in that she’s always been a high-class animal.”
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