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Magical Feeling Wins Thrilling Barbara Fritchie Handicap
LAUREL, MD. 02-18-12---Overlooked in the wagering at 27-1, Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds LLC’s Magical Feeling was in mid-stretch and in fifth place when she erupted to win the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (G2).
The 58th running of the Fritchie and $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap kicked off holiday racing this weekend at Laurel Park. The $200,000 General George Handicap (G2) will headline Monday’s Presidents’ Day card.
A win price of $56.80 lit up the infield totalizator board as the daughter of Empire Maker jogged back to the winners’ circle under Robert Alvarado, Jr. to waiting trainer Allen Iwinski. Magical Feeling had completed the 7-furlong distance in 1:22.36, winning in a blanket finish over 3-5 favorite Nicole H and multiple stakes winner C C’s Pal.
“She’s an unbelievable mare,” said Iwinski. “She has a winning attitude. Peter Blum couldn’t have named her any better. “She has tried as hard as she can run every time we send her out. The best word to describe her is phenomenal.”
Magical Feeling won by a head with Nicole H a nose better than C C’s Pal. The exacta paid $149.20 with the trifecta returning $165.60.
“I have always wanted to win this race,” said Blum, who last had a runner in the Fritchie in 1975. “In my opinion it is one of the top filly and mare races in the country. It has been won by some of the greatest race mares of our time. It feels tremendous to finally stand in this winners’ circle.”
Magical Feeling has won 11 of her last 14 starts, including the Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park last summer.
“I knew I had a lot of horse under,” said Alvarado. “She knows where the wire is. I won the same kind of race in the stakes at Monmouth. Coming off the pace and making a run through the stretch and getting up in the final jumps. At the eighth pole I started getting confident. She kept getting closer and closer. When we got there I had no doubts we would win it.”
Trainer Mike Hushion was looking for his third Fritchie win in the last five after winning with Golden Dawn (2008) and Harissa (2011) with Nicole H and Lovely Lil, who finished sixth.
“My horse broke very well,” said Dominguez, who was aboard Nicole H. “She was very eager to run the first part but she was very manageable. It was unfortunate that I was three-wide most of the trip but she was happy being out there and seemed to be getting over the track well. When we turned for home she gave me a good kick and got just a little late inside the sixteenth pole. She never gave up.”
C C’s Pal, who came into the race with three stakes wins in her last four starts for trainer Rick Dutrow, bobbled at the break but was in good position entering the lane.
“I had a perfect trip behind the favorite,” said Junior Alvarado, who rode the third place finisher. “When we turned for home she started lugging out a little bit and I think that might have cost us the race.”
Red’s Round Table, the 3-1 second betting choice, stumbled at the start and was never a factor, finishing last.
“She gets a little nervous behind the gate,” said Sheldon Russell, who had the riding assignment on trainer Tim Keefe’s star. “She has shown this in the past but never this bad. As soon as they backed the one horse (Aquitania) she got herself worked up. I thought we had her calmed down but she tried to come out too fast.”
“I was concerned when the two horse (Red’s Round Table) didn’t break well and that the pace might not be quite fast enough to run at,” added Iwinski. “But there was enough in front of her and inside the eighth pole I could see she wanted it more than the six horse (Nicole H).”
Magical Feeling has won 11-of-19 career starts for earnings of $401,520.