by Brian Bohl
Fair Point handled her stakes debut with aplomb, running down two challengers in deep stretch to win Sunday's $100,000 Smart N Fancy for fillies and mares at Saratoga Race Course.
The Stuart Janney-owned Fair Point capitalized on the turn-back in distance to win for the second consecutive time, defeating Miss Ella by a head in finishing the 5 ½ furlongs on the Mellon turf course in 1:01.18.
Fair Point, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, stayed off the fast fractions of 21.61 and 44.04 seconds set by even-money favorite Animal Appeal. Jockey Jose Ortiz made a strong move to slingshot off the turn as Fair Point overtook Animal Appeal and Sanctifica with a strong kick nearing the finish line.
The 4-year-old Smart Strike filly posted her third win in her last four races and improved her career record to 4-6-1 in 12 starts, including 3-for-3 at the Spa.
"It worked out great for us because that's the first black type she's got," McGaughey said. "You can see she's got a really consistent form. We're excited about her. It was fun watching her run."
Off at 5-1, Smart N Fancy paid $12.20 on a $2 win wager and increased her career earnings to $309,850. Ortiz earned his third victory of the day.
"She broke good, they set the pace everybody expected," Ortiz said. "They were going fast. I tried to save my horse as much as I could but by the three-eighths pole, the No. 3 horse [Miss Ella] and me were coming together. I went out and he went in and I think maybe that made a difference. He had to wait a little bit longer than I did to get a clear run."
Fair Point is now 2-1-0 in her three career turf starts.
"We were using her conditions a little bit," McGaughey said. "We breezed her on the turf a time or two, I have to give [assistant trainer] Robby [Medina] credit. He said she liked the grass. Before we came up here Jose said, 'Man, I'd love to ride her 5 ½ on the turf where I can kind of take her back and slingshot her.' I put her in a three-other-than the other day and the race didn't go, so we ended up here."
Added Ortiz: "I think she's getting better and better. This filly is a way different filly than last year."
Animal Appeal, Sanctifica, Means Well and Pretty Perfection completed the order of finish.
Nite Delite and Harp N Halo were scratched. West Coast Chick, Momameamaria and Lost Raven were main-track only entries.