07/15/2017 7:37PM

Morticia sets course record with Stormy Blues victory

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Morticia won the third stakes of her career with the Stormy Blues.

Morticia came back on Smiling Causeway to win the $100,000 Stormy Blues Stakes in course-record time Saturday at Laurel Park.

The winner finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Smiling Causeway. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Deer Valley in third. 

The Stormy Blues was the richest of three turf stakes on the program, with Just Howard accounting for the $75,000 Caveat and I’m Betty G taking the $75,000 Pearl Necklace.

Morticia won the third stakes race of her career in the Stormy Blues, a 5 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies. She covered the distance on firm ground in 1:01.29, which was announced as a course record for the Kelso Turf Course layout. The previous standard of 1:01.31 was established June 9 by Billy the Bull.

Morticia ($3.80) broke like a shot and held a brief advantage down the backside before Smiling Causeway took over after an opening quarter in 22.47 seconds. Smiling Causeway was clear through a half-mile in 44.44 seconds, as Morticia launched a determined stretch bid to catch her. In the late going, the eventual winner increased her advantage to the wire.

“She's all heart," said Jose Lezcano, who was aboard Morticia. "She tries hard. Wants to win all the time."

Lezcano was aboard Morticia for owner G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and trainer Rusty Arnold. Morticia is a daughter of Twirling Candy and was bred in Kentucky by Humphrey and Arnold.

Mortica came into the Stormy Blues off a win in the $100,000 Soaring Softly on May 20 at Belmont Park. Earlier in the year, she won the $75,000 Melody of Colors in February at Gulfstream Park. Morticia earned $60,000 for the win in the Stormy Blues, her fourth career victory from six starts. She has now earned $213,225.

I'm Betty G wins Pearl Necklace

I’m Betty G overcame a less-than-ideal start to win the Pearl Necklace by a nose over Riley’s Choice. It was another 5 1/2 lengths back to My Sistersledge in third.

The Pearl Necklace was a 1 1/16-mile turf race restricted to Maryland-bred or Maryland-sired 3-year-old fillies.

I’m Betty G ($7.60) stumbled at the start but recovered quickly to assume command through an opening quarter in 24.33 seconds. She set fractions of 47.57 for the half-mile and 1:11.58 for six furlongs and in the stretch was engaged by Riley’s Choice. I’m Betty G edged that rival in a photo, while covering the distance on firm turf in 1:40.29.

“She bobbled twice out of the gate,” said Horacio Karamanos, who was aboard I’m Betty G for trainer Mike Maker. “It made me worried a little bit [but] she took the lead nice and comfortable.

“She tried hard to the wire. Never stopped.”

I’m Betty G was making her first start against winners. She had accounted for a $30,000 maiden claiming turf sprint in her last start May 20 at Indiana Grand. Three Diamonds Farm owns the daughter of Into Mischief, who was bred in Maryland by Carol Kaye and Boyce Stable.

Just Howard in Caveat

Just Howard made his first start against winners a memorable one, when he fought for a head win over Bonus Points in the Caveat. It was another two lengths back in third to Good Reasoning.

The Caveat was a 1 1/16-mile turf race restricted to Maryland-bred or Maryland-sired 3-year-olds.

Just Howard ($4) was the even-money favorite in the Caveat off a maiden special weight win May 29 at Pimlico. He stalked the pace Saturday, as Jerandson put up fractions of 23.97 seconds for the opening quarter, 48.32 for the half-mile and 1:12.08 for six furlongs. Just Howard angled out in the stretch and dueled with Bonus Points while covering the distance on firm ground in 1:40.87.

Alex Cintron was aboard Just Howard for Skeedattle Associates and trainer Graham Motion. The horse is a son of English Channel and was bred in Maryland by Howard M. Bender.