11/19/2011 4:59PM

Laurel: Defy Gravity finds room late to take Smart Halo

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Defy Gravity, ridden by Sheldon Russell, collects her first stakes victory in the Smart Halo.

Defy Gravity found the racing room she needed in deep stretch and put away stubborn pacesetter Dance to Bristol to earn her first career stakes victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Smart Halo Stakes for Maryland-bred 2-year-old fillies at Laurel Park.

Ridden by Sheldon Russell, Defy Gravity ($4.80) was fourth behind a half-mile duel between recent maiden winner Dance to Bristol and Doe, the 2-1 second choice in a field of eight. Leaving the eighth pole, Russell shot Defy Gravity between horses and she capitalized when Dance to Bristol switched to her left lead inside the sixteenth pole to get up by a half-length. In winning for the third time in five starts, Defy Gravity covered six furlongs in 1:11.16.

“She was all heart,”  Russell said. “That hole was small but when I asked she went right on through.”

“I was a little nervous when they were coming around the turn that nothing would open up, but it did,” said winning trainer Valora Testerman, who handles Defy Gravity, a daughter of Bandini, for R N R Stable. “I’m hoping that as she matures, she’ll be able to go longer. We have been trying to get her to relax and save it for the end. Each race seems more promising and we are looking forward to a great 3-year-old year."

Dance to Bristol easily held second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Terralba.