02/06/2015 5:30PM

Divided Attention justifies decision to run in Ladies

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Divided Attention wins the Lady Handicap by 5 1/2 lengths under Dylan Davis.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A late decision to keep Divided Attention in the race paid dividends for her connections as the less-heralded of the two runners from Godolphin Racing stable rallied to win Friday’s $100,000 Ladies Handicap by 5 1/2 lengths at frigid Aqueduct.

Belle Gallantey, the multiple Grade 1 winner, finished second, 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Moment in Dixie in what may have been the final start for both of those mares. Shayjolie, Holiday’s Jewel, and Penwith - the other Godolphin runner - completed the order of finish.

Divided Attention was ridden by Dylan Davis, who captured his first stakes win in New York, a state where his father Robbie Davis won numerous stakes during his terrific career.

Divided Attention wasn’t among the five fillies or mares entered when the Ladies was originally carded for Jan. 31. That card was canceled due to weather and entries were taken on Sunday for Friday’s rescheduled running. On Sunday, Divided Attention, a half-sister to Folklore, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2005 Folklore, was entered.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Wednesday that Divided Attention was entered primarily as insurance for Penwith in case something happened to keep her from running. On Friday morning, however, it was decided by McLaughlin and Godolphin racing manager Jimmy Bell to keep Divided Attention in the field, according to Art Magnuson, McLaughlin’s New York-based assistant.

“Why not? Let’s not get too clever and split them up and just run,” Magnuson said. “It worked out. It makes us look pretty smart.”

Penwith set the pace in the Affectionately but was beaten a nose by America. Penwith, breaking from the rail under Fernando Jara, again set the pace in the Ladies, running a quarter in 24.14 seconds, a half-mile in 49.26 and six furlongs in 1:14.18 with Belle Gallantey stalking her.

Divided Attention, meanwhile, was sitting just behind those two, tipped three-wide around the far turn, and took control in upper stretch as Penwith began to weaken.

Divided Attention, a daughter of A.P. Indy, was coming off a third-place finish behind America and Penwith in the Affectionately.

“She got a little too far out of it and she made a good move,” Davis said of the Affectionately. “We got her a little closer this time and on the second turn she was feeling good where she could take the lead early to win.”

Divided Attention covered the 1 /-8 miles in a pedestrian 1:55.00 although the fast inner track was yielding slow times all day. She returned $4.40 to win.

Maguson said he was disappointed with the performance of Penwith, who was coming off a career-best effort in the Affectionately.

“She ran very big last time. Maybe she reacted a little,” Magnuson said.

While Belle Gallantey ran an improved race from her fifth-place finish in the Affectionately, she still seems far removed from the form she displayed last year winning the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap and Grade 1 Beldame. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez said he believes it may be time for Belle Gallantey, owned by Michael Dubb and partners, to be bred.

“She don’t owe us nothing.  I think she wants to be a momma right now, Rodriguez said. “I hope they do it.”