by Keith McCalmont
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Mrs. Orb dug in gamely and put her nose in front of Lucky Move at the wire to make her stakes debut a winning one in Sunday's $100,000 Bay Ridge at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained and part-owned by Michael Miceli with Ruggeri Stable, Richard Coburn and Script R Farm, Mrs. Orb arrived at the nine-furlong test for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and upwards on a three-race win streak.
The 4-year-old Orb bay broke awkwardly under jockey Dylan Davis, who was quick to put his filly into the race as Out of Orbit set a moderate opening quarter-mile in 25.43 seconds on the fast main track.
Out of Orbit continued a slow tempo through a half-mile in 52.30 with Cartwheel stalking in second position outside of 2-5 mutuel favorite Our Super Nova as Mrs. Orb negotiated her way three-wide into fourth.
Davis asked Mrs. Orb for more as the field moved into the final turn and emerged with a length lead at the stretch call as a bottled-up Our Super Nova looked for racing room along the rail. Lucky Move advanced with conviction in the final eighth while Our Super Nova, angled off the rail, failed to find another gear.
Mrs. Orb stayed on strong in the final sixteenth as Lucky Move, gaining ground with every stride under Kendrick Carmouche, moved alongside but could not reel in the game and determined nose winner, who stopped the clock in 1:56.14.
It was a further 3 ¾-lengths back to Out of Orbit in third with Our Super Nova and Cartwheel rounding out the order of finish. Fight On Lucy and Held Accountable were scratched.
The victory provided Miceli with his first stakes score since Minnie Punt captured the Kingston on May 30, 2010 at Belmont Park. The veteran conditioner said Mrs. Orb arrived at the Bay Ridge in good order.
"She was training very well and coming in off three straight wins. If there was a time to try her in a stakes race, today was the day. She really came through," said Miceli. "She did everything we thought she would. I didn't think the mile and an eighth was a question for her. She has an idling speed where she can run long at a nice steady pace. That's probably her best go, and she was on cruise control most of the way.
"I knew it was close at the wire," he added. "On the slow-motion [replay] I saw her head go down and I thought we got her [No. 4, Lucky Move]. We try to place our horses in spots we think they can win and they've been delivering, so we're thankful."
Davis said he wasn't feeling as optimistic as Miceli following the hard-fought fight to the finish.
"To be honest, I didn't think I got the photo. Luckily, I got the 'bob," said Davis. "She fought hard to the wire, and I just kept pushing past the wire, because I knew it was close.
"She broke with her head in the air and I had to use her going into the first turn," added Davis. "I didn't like my position being last, so I just wanted to get her into the race a little bit. It might have compromised the win margin, but we did what we had to do. She likes to be involved. She's not a deep closer at all, and today was her kind of track."
Carmouche tipped his cap to the winner following the tough beat.
"I knew I had the one [head bob] before [the wire], but I didn't know if I had the next one. That was a tough one," said Carmouche. " Dylan's horse was sticking her head out trying to win the race. Overall, she ran good. I was pleased with her."
Mrs. Orb., bred in New York by Rhapsody Farm, banked $59,25 in victory while improving her record to 5-3-3 from 16 starts. She paid $11 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes on Monday at the Big A with an eight-race card. First post is 12:30 p.m. Eastern.