01/16/2016 5:22PM

Castellano helps Mom'z Laugh hold off You Bought Her in Sunshine Millions Distaff

Barbara D. Livingston
Mom'z Laugh (1), with Javier Castellano aboard, prevails by a head over favored You Bought Her in the Sunshine Millions Distaff.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -   Jockey Javier Castellano showed why he’s already a two-time Eclipse Award champion, and was favored to win a third several hours later, after driving Mom’z Laugh to a head decision over You Bought Her in Saturday’s $200,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park.

Castellano reserved Mom’z Laugh in perfect striking position off a hotly contested pace, got her to the lead in early stretch, and then to re-assert herself when briefly headed by You Bought Her near the sixteenth pole to post a well-deserved victory. You Bought Her, bet down as the 5 -2 favorite, raced near the rear of the pack in the run down the backstretch, advanced steadily outside horses around the bend, stuck her nose in front near midstretch but could not resist the winner at the end while trying to lug in on her left lead through the final furlong. Legal Laura finished another 5 1/4 lengths farther back in third.

Mom’z Laugh, a daughter of Leroidesanimaux owned by A. Biancho Holding, covered seven furlongs over a fast track in 1:22.96 and paid $12.

“I got a little nervous, even watching the replay here,” said trainer Marcus Vitali. “But Javier did everything perfect today. He always makes the difference. That’s why he’s at the top of the game right now.

“We decided to take her a little further off the pace today, hoping she didn’t bounce off that last win,” Vitali added.”  I think she ran like an eight on the sheets last time and that can take a lot out of a horse in their next start. It looked like the other filly got by her a little bit, but she came back on the inside and ran a bang-up race. I was screaming ‘wire, wire.’ We needed the wire.

“She took a long time to mature, this filly,” Vitali said. “Had a lot of lumps and bumps as a 2-year-old. She’s really doing well now.”