05/02/2008 11:00PM

Intangaroo gets there by a head

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Intangaroo proved her victory over Hystericalady in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap earlier this year at Santa Anita was no fluke when she did it again Saturday at Churchill Downs, rallying from off a hotly contested pace to outfinish Baroness Thatcher by a head in the $334,800 Humana Distaff Stakes.

Hystericalady, the defending champ in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff, was courageous in defeat, finishing just a nose farther back in third after being pressed on the lead nearly every step of the seven-furlong dash. Sugar Swirl, the 2-1 co-favorite along with Hystericalady, was hung four wide contesting the pace from the outset before tiring to finish fifth, the setback snapping her four-race win streak.

The seven-furlong Humana Distaff was the first time Intangaroo had ever raced over a dirt track. All her previous races had come over synthetic surfaces in Southern California, including the Grade 1 Santa Monica, in which she rallied to a nose decision over Society Hostess, with Hystericalady finishing fourth as the 1-5 favorite. A 4-year-old daughter of Orientate, Intangaroo had won only a maiden and first-level allowance race before her surprising performance at 26-1 in the Santa Monica.

Under regular rider Alonso Quinonez, Intangaroo settled off the early pace set by Hystericalady and prompted by Graeme Six, Miss Macy Sue, and Sugar Swirl. The quartet raced as a team into the stretch, at which point they were challenged by Baroness Thatcher, who was positioned perfectly behind the embattled leaders.

Intangaroo ($30) began to make her move while three wide entering the stretch, angled out sharply near the eighth pole, then finished stoutly down the center of the course, wearing down both Baroness Thatcher and a resolute Hystericalady in the shadow of the wire. She covered the seven furlongs 1:22.03.

"A lot of people thought she got lucky in the Santa Monica," said Gary Sherlock, who trains Intangaroo for Tom Grether Farms Inc. "This win vindicates her now. Bobby Frankel told me not to worry about running her on this racetrack, and I was pretty confident she'd be okay after she just floated over it when I galloped her on Friday. She's just a nice filly who gives it her all as long as you don't let her run too early, as she had in some of her earlier races. Alonso rode her perfectly today."

Sherlock said his main goal for Intangaroo remains the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, which this year will be run over the artificial surface at Santa Anita.