04/17/2010 12:00AM

Tar Heel Mom makes grade in Distaff Handicap


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After coming close in a couple of graded stakes events in south Florida this winter, Tar Heel Mom finally broke through in a big event, scoring a 2 1/2-length, front-running victory in Saturday's at Aqueduct.

Hour Glass finished second by two lengths over Matchless Orinda. Justwhistledixie and Thunders Dove completed the order of finish.

The win was the seventh from 19 starts for Tar Heel Mom, a 5-year-old daughter of Flatter owned by Alex Rankin and trained by Stanley Hough. It was her fourth stakes win, but first in a graded event from six tries.

Tar Heel Mom had to settle for second-best in both the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie and Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes when trying to come from off the pace. Saturday, Ramon Dominguez, riding Tar Heel Mom for the first time, opted to put the mare on the lead, a spot from which she had previously won.

Tar Heel Mom was actually last out of the gate, but quickly assumed the front and outsprinted Thunders Dove for the lead and the rail through an opening quarter in 22.13 seconds. Dominguez kept Tar Heel Mom going through a half-mile in 44.93 seconds, six furlongs in 1:10.31 and she completed the seven furlongs in 1:24.51. She returned $5.60 as the favorite.

Dominguez said that Hough left the tactics up to him, but Dominguez wanted to be forwardly placed because he felt speed had been holding well most of the day over Aqueduct's muddy main track. Still, Tar Heel Mom had to run hard early to make the lead over Thunders Dove.

"As a result we ended up gong quicker than I wanted to, therefore she got a little tired the last part," said Dominguez, who won three races on the card. "She tried hard, she's a nice filly and she could overcome the fast fractions."

Matchless Orinda, shipping up from south Florida, was a bit disappointing, finishing third. Jockey John Velazquez said the mare wasn't her normal aggressive self early.

"She should be laying second, but she never really got aggressive," Velazquez said. "She didn't run terrible, but she never got into a good rhythm. Maybe she didn't like the track."