02/14/2015 6:06PM

Merry Meadow much the best in Hurricane Bertie

Kenny Martin/Coglianese Photos
Merry Meadow provides Javier Castellano with his four win on the card by dominating the Hurricane Bertie.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -  Whatever pace advantage it seemed More Than a Party might have had after Wildcat Lily was scratched from the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes was trumped by the class of Merry Meadow, who drew away to an easy and impressive 9 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 dash for older fillies and mares Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

The defection of Wildcat Lily appeared to leave the red-hot More Than a Party the controlling speed in the 6 1/2-furlong Hurricane Bertie. And while she did sprint to the lead from along the rail as expected, jockey Javier Castellano, aboard Merry Meadow, never let the leader get too far out of his sights. Castellano urged Merry Meadow on to engage More Than a Party approaching the quarter pole and it was never a contest thereafter. Merry Meadow steadily increased her advantage through the stretch, with More Than a Party holding off the 22-1 Galiana by a half-length to finish second.  Centrique and the laboring My Pal Chrisy completed the order of finish.

Merry Meadow, the only graded stakes winner in the field, went off the co-choice at even money with More Than a Party in the scratch-reduced lineup and returned $4.  A homebred daughter of Henny Hughes, Merry Meadow is trained by Mark Hennig for owner-breeders William Parsons Jr. and David Howe.                        

The Hurricane Bertie was the fourth win on the card for Castellano, who was limping slightly in the winner’s circle after the race. He took off his only other mount on the card, Cold Spice, in the finale.

“I was very concerned when the other horse [Wildcat Lily] scratched,” said Hennig. “Although you always like to have less competition to beat, she seemed to be the right horse for us to have in the race from a pace standpoint. I never said a word to Javier, but he read the Form and he understood the situation. Although it might have taken our filly out of her comfort zone a bit, all of a sudden she became the pursuer. She’s better than she’s ever been and right now she just wants to win.”

I’m Already Sexy takes Cooper City

I’m Already Sexy wore down the pacesetting Stoptalkinmaria in the final strides under jockey Paco Lopez to win the $60,000 Cooper City Stakes for fillies and mares on turf.  Trained by Wayne Catalano for the Hit The Board Stables, I’m Already Sexy paid $4.40.