01/01/2007 12:00AM

Oprah Winney pulls upset in Interborough


Oprah Winney began 2006 by finishing fourth as the 6-5 favorite in the Ruthless Stakes run over a wet Aqueduct inner track. She enjoyed a much better start to 2007, scoring a front-running half-length victory at 11-1 odds in the $70,590 Interborough Handicap on New Year's Day in the slop at Aqueduct.

Smart and Fancy rallied for second, 6 3/4 lengths ahead of the 6-5 favorite Magnolia Jackson.

Oprah Winney hadn't been out since winning the Bouwerie Stakes for New York-breds in May, but trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. had her ready. Despite the amount of speed that appeared to be lined up for this race, Dutrow instructed jockey Mike Smith to put her on the lead if possible.

"He called me just before I walked out and he said, 'When those doors open, buddy, you pretend you're in the All-American [Futurity] and go all out,'" Smith said, referring to the prestigious Quarter Horse race. "'If you get away slow, then you do what you want to do.' I got away good and she handled the ground really well. That helped a lot."

Conversely, Magnolia Jackson, who had won 3 of 5 races over off surfaces and was 4 for 5 on the inner track, appeared to struggle, jockey Ramon Dominguez said.

"It felt like she wasn't really handling the off going today," Dominguez said. "She was struggling to keep up, and that's not like her."

Oprah Winney covered six furlongs in 1:09.51. She was one of five double-digit winners in a pick six sequence that resulted in a $40,563 carryover entering Thursday's card.