02/14/2015 5:04PM

Lady Sabelia all the way in Barbara Fritchie

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club photo
Lady Sabelia, ridden by Horacio Karamanos, wins the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday.

Lady Sabelia decided to go to the lead in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park on Saturday, and jockey Horacio Karamanos was in no mood for a fight. The result was a front-running victory in Lady Sabelia's graded-stakes debut and back-to-back stakes wins on the card for Karamanos.

Lady Sabelia, a 5-year-old daughter of Majestic Warrior, has been patiently developed by her owners, Mr. and Mrs. Frank P. Wright, and trainer Robin Graham. She is just reaching her peak and has now won six of her last seven races. The Fritchie was her toughest test to date, and she won rather comfortably.

Lady Sabelia opened up a clear lead after a quarter-mile and clicked off relatively quick fractions of 22.67 seconds, 45.61, and 1:10.18 en route to a seven-furlong clocking of 1:23.14. Lady Sabelia paid $7.20 as the second choice in the 10-horse field.

Princess Violet, in contention throughout from her rail post, tried to reel in Lady Sabelia through the stretch run but came up 1 1/2 lengths short and had to settle for second. Her trainer, Mike Hushion, won last year's Fritchie with My Wandy's Girl, who also finished second in the 2013 Fritchie for Hushion.

Expression, well back early while racing along the inside, finished willingly for third, 1 3/4 lengths in front of 2-1 favorite Sam's Sister.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Sam's Sister bobbled and was pinched back at the break, recovered to reach contention, rallied four wide into the stretch, but was outfinished.

Graham nursed Lady Sabelia through sore shins as a 2-year-old and races her with a bubble blinker on her right side because she is susceptible to abscesses in that eye.

Lady Sabelia is stabled at Laurel and is 6 for 10 over the track. Overall, she is 8 for 14 with earnings of $518,465.

"She is getting better each time we ask her to step up," Graham said. "She's cool about everything she does."

Karamanos's decision to let her take the lead may have been the key to victory.

"She decided to go on the lead, and I didn't fight her," Karamanos said. "She was comfortable on the lead, and I had a lot of horse left in the stretch."

In the race prior to the Fritchie, Karamanos won the $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap aboard Page McKenney.