01/29/2017 6:48PM

Unbridled Mo knocks off I'm a Chatterbox in Houston Ladies Classic

Coady Photography
Jose Ortiz collects one of his three stakes wins Sunday aboard Unbridled Mo in the Houston Ladies Classic.

Unbridled Mo lifted jockey Jose Ortiz to a total of three stakes wins at Sam Houston on Sunday, when she kept 1-2 favorite I’m a Chatterbox at bay for a 2 3/4-length victory in the featured Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third to Family Tree.

The Houston Ladies Classic anchored a card of five stakes and served as the richest Thoroughbred offering in Texas. Ortiz also took home the Grade 3, $250,000 Connally Turf Cup with Bigger Picture and the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint with Partly Mocha.

Unbridled Mo ($11.20) settled off the pace in the early stages Sunday, as Danzatrice jumped out to the lead and turned fractions of 23.77 for the opening quarter-mile and 47.55 for the half-mile. Unbridled Mo took over through six furlongs in 1:11.52 before going on to cover 1 1/16 miles on a track rated fast in 1:42.89.

“She’s a big filly, and when she was hitting that big stride by the three-eighths pole, I knew I had a chance to win,” said Ortiz, who was aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher.

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I’m a Chatterbox made a run at the winner on the turn and into the stretch. She was making her first start since the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and after breaking last of all trailed for the first half-mile before making a four-wide move around the final turn Sunday.

Ortiz said when he saw I’m a Chatterbox coming on his outside, he went to a left-handed stick with Unbridled Mo, who responded. Unbridled Mo was winning the third stakes race of her career, behind the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks and $200,000 Remington Park Oaks. She has now won 5 of 7 starts and $466,180. Unbridled Mo is a homebred daughter of Uncle Mo who races for her breeder, Red Oak Stable.

Ortiz, who shipped in to ride Sunday, led all jockeys in wins in North America last year and was a finalist for an Eclipse Award.