02/18/2012 6:16PM

Laurel: Magical Feeling rallies to upset win in Barbara Fritchie


With 10 victories in her previous 13 starts entering Saturday's $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park, Magical Feeling certainly had displayed a penchant for winning.

Having never competed in a graded race before, however, Magical Feeling was not given much chance by the betting public, who sent her off as the second-longest shot on the board at 27-1 in the seven-horse field.

But Magical Feeling's nose for the finish line was evident for all to see Saturday as she rallied furiously in the stretch under Roberto Alvarado Jr. and caught 3-5 favorite Nicole H to win the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie by a neck. Nicole H won a nose decision for second over C.C's Pal, who drifted out in the stretch. She was followed in the order of finish by Aquitania, Silver Heart, Lovely Lil and Red's Round Table, who stumbled at the start.

Magical Feeling, a 6-year-old daughter of Empire Maker owned and bred by Peter Blum and trained by Allen Iwinski, won for the 11th time in 19 career starts. The $120,000 first-place purse inflated her career earnings to $401,520.

In the summer of 2010, after returning from a 15-month layoff, Magical Feeling was offered in four maiden claiming races, once for $12,500. She won that race at Parx on Sept. 14, 2010 and has lost only three times in 14 starts since.

Iwinski felt that Magical Feeling benefited from one of those losses, a third-place finish in an optional claiming race on Jan. 21 because it gave his mare a race over the Laurel strip.

"I think that really helped her," Iwinski said.

Saturday, Magical Feeling raced in fifth position early as Aquitania, Lovely Lil, and Nicole H dueled through a quarter in 23.47 seconds and a half-mile in 46.11.

Nicole H, three-wide under Ramon Dominguez, made a move for the lead around the far turn and appeared to be cruising comfortably. She maintained a clear margin into the stretch, but couldn't hold off Magical Feeling, who got up in the final strides.

"We had a plan with her to let her relax and get comfortable and make a run with her," Alvarado said.

"Today, when we hit the half-mile pole, I know I had a lot of horse under me. She started to move pretty nice and smooth, and as soon as I hit the top of the stretch she gave me everything she got and we got there."

Magical Feeling covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.36 and returned $56.60.

"She's an unbelievable mare, she's got a great attitude and a winning attitude," Iwinski said. "Peter Blum couldn't have named her any better _ she's very much magical."