07/02/2013 3:29PM

Parx: Somali Lemonade ends drought by taking Dr. Penny Memorial

Barbara Weidl/Equiphoto
Somali Lemonade, with Joel Rosario aboard, ends a 10-race winless streak by holding off Miz Ida by a half-length in the Dr. James Penny Memorial.

Though she earned more than $135,000 and came within a head of winning a Grade 1 race, Somali Lemonade’s 3-year-old season in 2012 passed without a visit to the winner’s circle. But what she could not do in eight starts last year, Somali Lemonade did in her second race of 2013, holding off Miz Ida to capture the Grade 3, $250,000 Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes on Tuesday at Parx Racing.

The victory was the first for Somali Lemonade ($15.40) since she won the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland in October 2012. Somali Lemonade’s losing streak had reached 10 as of Tuesday, but she ran like a horse intent on ending it, fighting back when sternly challenged by Miz Ida in midstretch, holding off that rival to win by a half-length. Pacesetting 6-5 favorite Pianist finished third, edging second-choice Hessonite. Laughing and Peace Preserver were early scratches. Winning time for 1 1/16 miles on a course called yielding but looking even softer was 1:47.83. Somali Lemonade now is 2 for 2 on yielding ground, her Jessamine win having come under similar conditions.

A Lemon Drop Kid filly owned by Caroline Forgason, Somali Lemonade was eligible for a second-level allowance race all last year but competed only in graded stakes, her best performance a head loss in the Grade 1 Garden City. Trainer Michael Matz brought Somali Lemonade back into action this year in a June 2 allowance race at Belmont Park, where the filly tracked a solid pace in a one-mile race and finished a close fourth – a perfect prep, it turned out, for the Penny.

Jockey Joel Rosario gets solid credit for Tuesday’s victory. Pianist hustled out of the gate under Mike Smith to take early command, setting early fractions of 25.32 seconds for the opening quarter and 51.10 with Naples Bay and Somali Lemonade lining up behind her along the rail. Shaun Bridgmohan on Miz Ida, evidently feeling the slow pace and not wanting Pianist to open too great an advantage, gently urged his mount to close the gap midway down the backstretch, but before Miz Ida could hem Somali Lemonade in at the rail, Rosario steered out to pass Naples Bay and force Miz Ida farther outside. Somali Lemonade wound up in the three path around the far turn but Miz Ida was four wide, and as Pianist gave out along the inside and Naples Bay failed to quicken, it was down to those two in the homestretch. Miz Ida briefly appeared to have the upper hand, but Somali Lemonade fought back and was clearly going better at the finish – turnabout from a season of following other horses home.