08/23/2012 4:14PM

Suffolk: Southoftheborder tries to defend title in First Episode

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After scoring her first sprint victory in her last race, Southoftheborder is poised for some overdue respect when she defends her title in Saturday’s $50,000 First Episode Stakes at Suffolk Downs against fellow Massachusetts-bred fillies and mares. The First Episode is run at a mile and 70 yards.

Southoftheborder has been racing at Suffolk since 2005, and at age 9, she is as much a local fixture as the Blue Line “T” trains running along the backstretch. Most of her career has been spent toiling in the shadow of all-time Massachusetts-bred star Ask Queenie, and until three weeks ago she was winless in 17 sprints. That’s part of the reason she wasn’t favored in the Isadorable Stakes on Aug. 4, but a hot pace finally landed her in the winner’s circle.
Meanwhile, the First Episode has been Southoftheborder’s perennial chance to shine. This will be her seventh start in the race, and she has finished in the money in her last six attempts, with wins in 2009 and last year.

Until her last race, Southoftheborder had made 24 starts in statebred stakes, and her two wins in the First Episode had been her only victories at this level.

The question for players is whether to treat Southoftheborder as a formful winner of her last two stakes stretching to arguably her best distance, or as a 9-year-old with a 3-for-26 stakes record and a history of inconsistency.

Complicating that question is the presence of Tallys Sundance and Never Know, who rallied into the same hot pace of the Isadorable and finished third and fourth. Both lost ground on the turn with wide trips. Unfortunately for both, Southoftheborder again drew the rail under jockey Jorge Vargas; Never Know drew post 2, and Tallys Sundance drew post 3.