10/05/2014 6:03PM

Don't Tell Sophia takes Spinster; Close Hatches fades to fourth

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Don't Tell Sophia goes from last to first under Joe Rocco in the Juddmonte Spinster.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Don’t Tell Sophia rolled from last for a 2 1/2-length victory Sunday in the 59th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland while Close Hatches was defeated for the first time this year when laboring home fourth as the 1-5 favorite.

Ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., Don’t Tell Sophia returned $13.40 as second choice in a field of six fillies and mares. An objection against her for alleged stretch interference by Paco Lopez, who rode runner-up Ria Antonia, was disallowed by the stewards.

Don’t Tell Sophia, a $1,000 yearling purchase, gave trainer Phil Sims the greatest victory of his career. Sims, who co-owns the 6-year-old mare with Jerry Namy, has been training horses in relative obscurity at Keeneland for nearly 35 years.

“We knew she’d make her run,” said Sims, who grew up in tiny Flemingsburg, Ky., before moving to Lexington in his late teens. “Obviously we had a lot of respect for Close Hatches coming in, but we knew if she stubbed her toe we might have a good chance.”

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The Spinster carries an expenses-paid Win and You’re In designation toward the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Oct. 31 at Santa Anita. Sims said Don’t Tell Sophia will go, in all likelihood.

Close Hatches, unbeaten in four prior starts in 2014 for Juddmonte Farms, carried jockey Joel Rosario through fractions of 24.19 and 47.47 seconds but was never given a breather when flanked to the outside by Lopez and Ria Antonia. Through six furlongs in 1:11.71, Ria Antonia poked her head in front and was edging away in upper stretch before Don’t Tell Sophia began flying on the far outside.

“It worked out just like we hoped,” said Rocco. “She just gallops behind them and does her thing. When it comes time for her to put in her run, it sure is explosive.”

Nearing the sixteenth pole, Don’t Tell Sophia veered in slightly while appearing to be barely clear of Ria Antonia. After about five minutes, the stewards decided there would be no change in the order of finish.

“I felt like it was very marginal,” said Rocco.

 

Molly Morgan rallied for third, another 2 1/4 lengths behind Ria Antonia. Close Hatches was 2 1/2 more lengths back in fourth and just a half-length before Got Lucky. Godolphin invader Shuruq faded to last.

Don’t Tell Sophia finished the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.80 over a fast track for her 11th win from 22 career starts. She earned $300,000, lifting her career bankroll to $979,295.

 Bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable, Don’t Tell Sophia, by Congaree, has outrun modest expectations from the outset of her career. “She’s had her share of problems and wouldn’t pass the vet if we tried to sell her, but she doesn’t know that,” said Sims.

Meanwhile, Rosario said Close Hatches “gave me a little bit, but normally when they come to her she keeps on going and improves her position. Probably today was not her day.”

Garrett O’Rourke, manager for Juddmonte, said Close Hatches would be closely evaluated before her status toward the Distaff would be decided.

Nearly $300,000 was wagered into the show pool, with more than $260,000 on Close Hatches. After she fizzled, these were the $2 show payoffs on the respective top three: $14.60, $37.60, and $30.20.

The $2 exacta (5-1) paid $138.20, the $1 trifecta (5-1-6) returned $377.20, and the 10-cent superfecta (5-1-6-2) was worth $67.95.

Attendance on a mostly cloudy, cool afternoon was 12,534.