01/17/2015 2:33PM

Willet finds old form to win Interborough Stakes


Bouncing back from two sub-par performances to close out 2014, Willet flashed her vintage form to win Saturday’s 94th running of the $100,000 Interborough Stakes with a strong stretch run.

Making her first start at age 7, Willet settled into stride through the early stages beneath Irad Ortiz Jr., as Bridgehampton sprinted off to a clear lead through fractions of 22.57 seconds and 45.41.

Willet swung four wide while gathering momentum leaving the turn, rallied outside of Aireofdistinction as both collared the pacesetter inside the eighth pole, and drove clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

“I got a pretty good trip,” said Ortiz, who also won Friday’s Busanda on Overprepared. “She likes to come from behind. When she broke, she was relaxed, and she finished pretty good. She was ready.”

Aireofdistinction saved the place by a neck over Expression, who finished fast after trailing to the top of the stretch. Stormy Novel, Bridgehampton, and Cape Cod Carol completed the order of finish.

Willet, whose four prior stakes victories had been against New York-breds, ran six furlongs in 1:10.65 on a fast inner track and returned $6.30 to win as the favorite in the field of six. It was her ninth win overall, and the $60,000 winner’s share pushed her career earnings to $746,900 for trainer and co-owner Jimmy Iselin.

“It’s great she should come back after the last race,” said Iselin, referring to a third-place finish as the favorite in the Garland of Roses. “That was a little concerning. But after that race, she was flourishing. So we made the decision to race on a great day and a great track. It’s exciting that she came back and showed what she can do. We’ll sit down and enjoy today and go back to the drawing board.”