05/16/2014 1:24PM

Seefeldt wins Lady Legends race after finish line faux pas

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Barbara D. Livingston
Andrea Seefeldt was all smiles after getting up in deep stretch to win the Lady Legends for the Cure on Friday at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE - Andrea Seefeldt rode Zuerstgold to victory in the Lady Legends for a Cure race on Friday at Pimlico.

Seefeldt, 50, was riding in a race for the first time since 2011, when she last participated in the Lady Legends for a Cure race here. The event highlights the role of women in racing while seeking to raise awareness of and funds for breast cancer research. Seefeldt’s mother died of breast cancer in 2004.

The Lady Legends for a Cure is a regular pari-mutuel race, carded as race 3 on the Friday program at Pimlico, and backers of two horses, Big Lute and Graced, were left disappointed. Big Lute, the even-money favorite, made a premature move to the lead while racing wide into the stretch under Sharon Frances Gunther, who replaced one of two original Lady Legends participants injured while training for the event. Worse, Stacie Clark-Rogers misjudged the finish line while on the way to an apparent victory aboard Graced, the 5-2 second choice. Clark-Rogers stood up in the saddle several yards before the finish as Seefeldt and Zuerstgold rolled past on the outside.

“I just misjudged the wire,” Clark-Rogers said. “It’s not like I’m the first ship-in to do it. I do feel terrible about it.”

Seefeldt, riding in a race for the first time in two years, said she put to use tactics gleaned from her mentor, the Maryland-based trainer Dickie Small, who passed away earlier this year.

“When I rode for Dickie, we always used to come from behind, and on a sloppy day like today, no one wants to be back there, and everyone goes to the front,” Seefeldt said.

Breaking from the rail, Seefeldt took back, saved ground for much of the race, and swung wide to rally for the victory.

“I knew what I needed to do, but it wasn’t easy to get myself to do it,” said Seefeldt.

Seefeldt felt a mix of anticipation and fear, she said, as soon as the Friday overnight was published by the track. It takes serious work for a retired rider like Seefeldt to get back into race shape. And still, the high of actually riding in a competitive race still kindles in former jockeys.

“I felt fine in the race, but in the gate, I was terrified,” she said. “It’s thrilling at the same.”

Zuerstgold paid $15.20 to win. Finishing behind Graced were Big Blue Talent and Tammi Purcell-Burkland, Big Lute, It’s My Perogative and Abigail Fuller, Rojo Perfecto and Patti Cooksey, Macho Spaces and Cheryl White, and Clowning Around and Kaymarie Kreidel.