01/18/2009 12:00AM

Game Face overcomes troubled start


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Todd Pletcher's confidence in Game Face in Sunday's $100,000 First Lady Handicap was well founded as his talented filly rallied to an easy 2 3/4-length victory over Any Limit in the Grade 3 dash for older fillies and mares.

Game Face, who one year earlier here was an even easier winner of the Grade 3 Old Hat, had to overcome trouble at the break when she was pinched back between horses. But jockey John Velazquez quickly put Game Face in good position outside horses on the turn, from where she readily wore down Any Limit and easily pulled away through the final furlong.

Any Limit held well to finish second, three-quarters of a length in front of the unlucky Slewfoundmoney, who was forced to steady a couple of times from tight quarters along the rail.

Game Face, a daughter of Menifee, is owned by Zabeel Racing International. She ran six furlongs in 1:10.57 seconds over a fast track and paid $4.80.

"You always get a little worried when you have one who is training this well for a race and I got a little more nervous after she got pinched back at the start," said Pletcher. "But she recovered quickly and Johnny put her in good position. In fact it mirrored the trip she got winning the Old Hat last year."

Pletcher said he'll likely point Game Face for the next race in the series for older filly and mare sprinters, the 6 1/2-furlong Hurricane Bertie, on Feb. 15. The series concludes with the seven furlong Inside Information - formerly the Shirley Jones - on March 15.

Oilgonewile leads throughout in Sweetest Chant

Oilgonewile once again proved how dangerous she can be when allowed to relax on the lead, making every pole a winning one en route to a 1 3/4-length triumph over Weekend Strike in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.

Oilgonewile who used similar tactics to capture Calder's Georgia Debutante Stakes in her 2-year-old finale, disposed of a mild bid from C Karma midway down the backstretch, then maintained a safe advantage over the late-striding, wide-running Weekend Strike. It was another neck further back to Exe, who finished third in a field that was bunched closely behind the winner at the wire.

Banker's Choice, the 5-2 favorite, was the major disappointment as she finished 11th and last after getting caught wide and in tight quarters on the final turn.

Oilgonewile, a daughter of Montbrook, is trained by Joe Calascibetta for owners Chester Bishop, Rohan Crichton, Stephen Screnci, and Wayne Ebanks.

Oilgonewile paid $46.60 after getting a mile over a firm turf course in 1:36.24 seconds