Updated on 09/18/2011 1:41AM

'Saint' bit too tough for 'Maggie'

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Reed Palmer / Ellis Park
Prospective Saint wins the $150,000 Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park on Saturday.

HENDERSON, Ky. - Ten fillies and mares ran, but the $150,000 quickly became a two-horse race, with favored Prospective Saint ultimately getting the best of second choice Maggie Slew after a virtual race-long duel Saturday at Ellis Park.

Prospective Saint, ridden by Eddie Castro, moved alongside to challenge front-running Maggie Slew approaching the half-mile pole, and after they shrugged off a brief challenge from Beau Watch, they distanced themselves from the others, with Prospective Saint taking the Grade 3 race by a half-length.

"It was pretty simple," said David Vance, trainer of Maggie Slew. "If they don't ship in the best horse from Florida, we win."

Prospective Saint, a 5-year-old Saint Ballado mare owned by Charles Miller, returned $4 as the 119-pound highweight. The victory was her eighth from 19 starts and followed a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney, a six-furlong race run July 15 at her Calder home base.

Marty Wolfson, who stayed home in Florida, is the trainer of Prospective Saint, who finished one mile in 1:36.13 over a fast track.

Plaid finished third, followed by Character Builder, Fast Navy, Starry Pie, Fly Away Angel, Ten Carat Ruby, Beau Watch, and Sea Siren. Island Escape was scratched.

The Gardenia was the anchor event of the Big Four Stakes program, the richest day of racing at the 36-day Ellis meet. The Gardenia ended an all-stakes pick four worth $965 for $2.

Debutante: 'Cowgirls' pays dividends

Cowgirls Don't Cry got a perfect trip from just behind stablemate Come Together when rolling to victory in the $50,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante.

Ridden by Larry Melancon, Cowgirls Don't Cry finished a length in front of High Heels, a maiden, while another maiden, Get Ready Bertie, was another two lengths back in third. Lenaro, the 8-5 favorite, finished fourth, while Come Together faded to sixth in a field of nine.

Cowgirls Don't Cry was winning for the second time in four starts, and for the first time since Jeff Singer purchased her at auction in May for $105,000 and turned her over to Todd Pletcher.

"She ran super," said Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy. "She was closer to the pace than I thought she would have been, but she has been really aggressive the last couple of weeks."

Cowgirls Don't Cry returned $6.40 as second choice after finishing seven furlongs in 1:22.79. McCarthy said he was unsure where she would race next.

Juvenile: DQ breaks dead heat

A highly eventful ending to the $50,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile resulted in a dead heat for win, but one of them was disqualified to third for a bumping incident in deep stretch.

Hadacure was caught precisely on the wire by Tis a Man, but following a stewards' inquiry, Tis a Man was placed third for having come out several paths and impeding Western Prize. Hadacure ($21.20) was declared the winner, with Western Prize elevated to second and Tis a Man, the 6-5 favorite, lowered to third.

Joe Petalino is the trainer of Hadacure, a Texas-bred gelding who was ridden by John Jacinto. Bred and owned by Larry Dyson, the son of Hadif has now won 2 of 3 starts.

In the aftermath of the chaotic finish, more than 10 minutes elapsed to determine the result of the win photo and inquiry. Meanwhile, about 30 people crowded into the winner's circle when Tis a Man, with Brian Hernandez Jr. up, was being photographed after temporarily being declared a co-winner, but it wasn't long before they emitted a collective groan when the disqualification was announced.

* Jacinto also was the winning rider in the $50,000 Regaey Island, as Act of God ($12), co-owned and trained by Fred Seitz, rallied from well off the pace to capture the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. Sea of Trees was second and Goodtogoagain was third.