05/30/2016 5:45PM

The Tea Cups fires fresh to win Mount Vernon Stakes

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Chelsea Durand/NYRA photo
The Tea Cups, with Luis Saez aboard, wins the Mount Vernon Stakes by half a length Monday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Though The Tea Cups had run well off a layoff in the past, it wasn’t by design that trainer Jeremiah Englehart brought the 6-year-old mare into Monday’s $125,000 Mount Vernon Stakes having not raced in seven months.

But a minor setback prevented The Tea Cups from getting a race before now.

The Tea Cups showed she was more than ready off the bench, rallying from last under Luis Saez to run down the defending Mount Vernon winner, Invading Humor, and win the Mount Vernon by a half-length at Belmont Park. It was a neck farther back to the favored Neck of the Moon in third.

It was the sixth win from 23 starts for The Tea Cups, a daughter of Hard Spun owned by Kendel Standlee. The Tea Cups also won the Yaddo Stakes at Saratoga last summer.

Engelhart said he was not particularly pleased with a couple of The Tea Cups’s workouts this month, and blood work revealed an iron deficiency. Englehart put The Tea Cups on supplements, and another work had her ready to go.

“I owe this one to my team,” Englehart said, referring to assistant trainer Axelle Angeliaume and groom Carlos Arredeondo. “They really put in the work.”

The Tea Cups benefitted from a hot pace established by Freudie Anne, who sprinted to the lead under Joel Rosario and set fractions of 22.55 seconds and 46.75 for the opening half-mile. Meanwhile, Saez had The Tea Cups last of 12 down the backside.

Invading Humor, under Jose Lezcano, took up a good position in third and made a move toward the lead in midstretch.

Saez swung The Tea Cups five to six wide turning for home, and they were able to run by Invading Humor late. The Tea Cups covered a mile in 1:36.40 over a turf course rated “yielding” and returned $16.

“I thought there was going to be some speed in this race,” Englehart said from his home in upstate New York, where he watched the race. “Luis knows her so well. I felt we could sit back, take a nice, long hold, and I thought he rode her perfectly.”