Updated on 03/14/2011 11:39AM

Laurel: Fascinatin' Rhythm reaches peak form in Conniver

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Forest Boyce guides Fascinatin' Rhythm to a convincing victory in the Conniver.

Fascinatin’ Rhythm was no match for either Five Diamonds or Sweet Goodbye when they met two months ago in the six-furlong What a Summer. But after turning in one of the fastest races of her career in last month’s Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap, followed by a bullet four-furlong workout last week, the 6-year-old Fascinatin’ Rhythm was in peak form for Saturday’s $75,000 Conniver Stakes at Laurel Park.

Ideally positioned by jockey Forest Boyce behind a pace duel between defending Conniver champion Sweet Goodbye and 8-5 favorite Five Diamonds, Fascinatin’ Rhythm ($8.60) surged to the front early in the stretch and cruised to a 4 1/4-length victory. In winning for the seventh time in 27 career outings, Fascinatin’ Rhythm covered the seven furlongs in 1:24.90.

“Her last race was excellent in the Fritchie,” said Small, referring to Fascinatin’ Rhythm’s third-place finish in which she earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure, just one point off her career best. She then worked four furlongs in 48.20 seconds on March 8.

“I was really pleased with her race and between the two races she did sensational. This race came up tougher than I thought but I was really confident because she was training so well.”

 

Small indicated Fascinatin’ Rhythm would run next in the $75,000 Dahlia Stakes on the turf at Pimlico on April 23. One of her two stakes wins last year came on turf in the Jameela.

 

“She really likes the turf and a wet track doesn’t bother her so we have plenty of options because in the spring we have a lot of rain," Small said. "I am not going to have trouble finding spots for her.”

 

This was the fifth Conniver score for Small, who won this race with Final Chapter (1984), Parade of Roses (1988), Fleet Broad (1994), and Shashobegon (2000).

 

Boyce, who has been aboard for each of Fascinatin’ Rhythm’s last six races, including a victory in the one-mile Geisha last September, said the mare responded when asked to run.

“I made my move a little sooner than I normally would,” Boyce said. “Once we got away, she kept going.”

Sweet Goodbye, the 2-1 second choice in a field of six Maryland-bred fillies and mares, held second by a neck 18-1 longshot Miss Charm City. Five Diamonds stopped and was eased to the wire as the last-place finisher.