01/06/2016 1:28PM

2015 Eclipse Awards: Stopchargingmaria

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Barbara D. Livingston
Stopchargingmaria could have been sold at auction late in 2014 and retired from racing to begin her second career as a broodmare. It would have been a tidy finish for a multiple Grade 1 winner whose 2- and 3-year-old campaigns included five graded stakes scores.

But it is funny how things work out. Stopchargingmaria did not reach her $3.15 million reserve at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November sale. She was not sold at auction. Instead, she was purchased privately from owner Mike Repole by Town and Country Farms.

Even though Town and Country is largely focused on breeding, Stopchargingmaria did not retire from racing. She stayed in competition at age 4, which turned out to be a good move by Town and Country mother-and-daughter owners Louise and Kiki Courtelis.

Todd Pletcher has trained Stopchargingmaria throughout her career, and in 2015, she added three graded stakes wins to her résumé, including the biggest of all – the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The season-ending victory lifted Stopchargingmaria to finalist status as the outstanding older filly or mare of 2015. An Eclipse Award finalist one year earlier as a 3-year-old filly when owned by Repole, Stopchargingmaria turned in her best campaign at age 4 for Town and Country. Bred in Kentucky by Harvey Clarke and Brookdale Farm, Stopchargingmaria always was a good one. In her first trip through the auction ring, she brought $47,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale, then drew a final bid of $220,000 at the 2013 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. March 2-year-olds in training sale. A graded stakes winner as a juvenile and a two-time Grade 1 winner at 3, she matured at 4. Stopchargingmaria ran consistently faster times and won three of five starts. She improved as the season unfolded.

Following the private sale to Town and Country, Stopchargingmaria took the winter months off. When she returned for her 2015 debut in the Grade 1, seven-furlong Madison Stakes on April 4 at Keeneland, she had trained well. Pletcher had her ready to roll.

Stopchargingmaria raced wide and finished well, second by a half-length. It was a good comeback. Six weeks later on May 15 at Pimlico, Stopchargingmaria stretched out to 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 3 duPont Distaff. She dominated late, winning by four.

Stopchargingmaria was lightly campaigned by design. Her best races were always fresh. Her comeback was Aug. 2 at Saratoga in the Grade 3 Shuvee, which she won by a length. Up in class a month later on Aug. 29 at Saratoga, she was favored in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign.

For the first time in a year and a half, Stopchargingmaria finished off the board. She dueled and tired, finishing fourth as the favorite.

Pletcher did not lose faith and figured that a two-month break heading into the BC Distaff would be ideal. Facing 13 rivals in a deep field, Stopchargingmaria and jockey Javier Castellano rallied wide, made contact with a rival in the lane, and won by a neck. It was the biggest win of her 6-for-19 career.