03/04/2017 4:27PM

Isabelle dominant in Heavenly Prize Invitational

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Michael Amoruso
Isabelle and jockey Kendrick Carmouche win the Heavenly Prize Invitational by 12 lengths.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The connections of Isabelle claim that she’s better when she has a target. But when jockey Kendrick Carmouche came to the Aqueduct paddock for Saturday’s $150,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational, he told assistant trainer Leana Willaford that he was putting the 6-year-old mare on the lead.

Isabelle struck the front soon after the start and never looked back, cruising to a 12-length victory in the Heavenly Prize and continuing her career renaissance. Genre, the 4-5 favorite who looked done on the far turn, rerallied to get second by 2 1/4 lengths over Chorus Line. Oasis At Midnight, Annie Rocks, and Familyofroses completed the order of finish. Highway Star scratched.

The victory was the seventh from 19 starts for Isabelle, a 6-year-old New York-bred daughter of Successful Appeal. It was her second win in her last three outings. Prior to that, Isabelle had lost eight consecutive races over 23 months.

“She just turned over a new leaf in December,” said Willaford, the New York-based assistant to trainer Bill Mott. “Kept her out of the breeding shed, I guess.”

In December, Isabelle won the Bay Shore for New York-breds from off the pace. In the Biogio’s Rose, also for statebreds, on Feb. 5, she set the pace but was hassled by Super Surprise, who kept her in tight before eventually passing her. Isabelle settled for second.

On Saturday, Carmouche hustled Isabelle out of the gate and kept her pursuers a bit wide heading into the first turn. Going into the turn, Carmouche guided Isabelle back to the rail, and the pair opened up a two-length lead while running a half-mile in 49.04 seconds into a strong headwind. Genre was stalking her from second.

Isabelle kept cruising on the lead, but Genre backed up as Annie Rocks and Chorus Line surrounded her heading into the far turn.

Isabelle opened up a nine-length lead by the eighth pole, and Carmouche took her in hand late. She covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.04 and returned $4.80.

“Sometimes you got make the race for yourself,” Carmouche said. “My horse broke good, I just stayed out and made sure nobody pressured me while I’m on the rail. She ran her race today.”

Jockey Trevor McCarthy said that when he tried to motivate Genre at the half-mile pole, “she just wasn’t there for me. When those horses came by her, she folded.”

McCarthy said when Genre switched leads in upper stretch, she showed some renewed interest and was able to get second.