04/30/2016 5:17PM

Deniro's Saint displays surprising speed to win Dr. T.F. Classen Stakes

JJ Zamaiko
Deniro's Saint, ridden by Luis Gonzalez, earns her first sprint win since 2012 in the Dr. T.F. Classen Stakes.

Who says you can’t teach an old gray mare new tricks?

The 6-year-old Deniro’s Saint, a deep closer in route races in 11 of her last 12 starts dating back to June 2014, displayed surprising early speed to capture Saturday’s $75,000 Dr. T.F. Classen Stakes for Ohio-accredited fillies and mares at Thistledown.

Sent to challenge the 3-year-old filly Ebby for the early lead by jockey Luis Gonzalez, Deniro’s Saint was prominent through fractions of 22.24 and 47.20 seconds. She opened a clear lead in the stretch and drew off to defeat Ebby by 3 3/4 lengths, completing six furlongs in 1:12.86.

It was the first sprint win for Deniro’s Saint ($6.40), a daughter of Saints n’ Sinners trained by Josh Faulkner for owner Joe Faulkner, since November 2012, when she wired the field in the Glacial Princess at now-defunct Beulah Park. Overall, Deniro’s Saint has won 10 of 28 starts and $412,474, including seven stakes.

In her first start of the season less than three weeks ago, Deniro's Saint tried a sprint, but was last of eight after a quarter-mile and never threatened while finishing fifth.

Ebby, making her first start since winning back-to-back stakes last fall, was easily second-best in the Classen, finishing 1 1/2 lengths clear of last year’s Classen winner, Derby Day Storm. Hope’s Frog Song was sixth of seven as the 9-5 favorite.