With Ova Charged away, Free Like a Girl will play
With the overwhelming favorite Ova Charged scratched late morning, the door was open for Gerald Bruno, Jr., Carl J. Deville, Jerry Caroom and trainer Chasey Pomier’s Free Like a Girl, and she took full advantage, taking the $75,000 Bob F. Wright Memorial for Louisiana-bred filly and mare sprinters over just two rivals.
“When we checked on her this morning, she had a fever,” trainer Jose Camejo, whose Ova Charged, easily handled Free Like a Girl in the Ladies Sprint on Champions Day. “It’s disappointing, but we have to do what’s right by the horse.”
With both Ova Charged and Snowball scratched, Free Like a Girl needed to defeat only Spirited Beauty and Winning Romance to get the win, and she did just that.
“I think she (Ova Charged) is amazing, but we were ready,” Pomier said. “This is a business. We are all competitive. I hope everything is fine with her and that she comes back good.”
Away alertly, Free Like a Girl went to the lead, but she was quickly challenged on the inside by Spirited Beauty through opening splits of :22.34 and :45.56. She put that foe away and darted away under regular rider Pedro Cotto, Jr. to win away by 2 ¾ lengths in a final time of 1:11.26 for six furlongs over a fast track. Winning Romance failed to menace and finished a distant third.
“I was trying to get her as relaxed as I could and just go from there,” Cotto, Jr. said.
Just one week ago, Free Like a Girl finished second in the open company Pago Hop around two turns. Entered as a “main track only”, she ran when the race was washed off the turn.
“We took a shot that the Pago Hop was going to come off the turf last week in case this race didn’t make it (wasn’t used) because we knew it was going to be just a few horses,” Pomier explained. “We ran her, took a shot and I was able to leave her here with Ron (trainer Faucheux). His crew did an amazing job for us all week. With the short rest, we waited until yesterday afternoon and decided to stay in.”
With the win, Free Like a Girl, who was purchased for just $5,500 as a yearling, moved into the top 20 on the all-time list Louisiana-bred earnings list with $748,128. In the process, she enhanced her record to 22-10-7-3. She paid $3.20 to win.