BALTIMORE (AP) — Completely unconcerned about all the horses kicking up dirt in front of him, jockey Javier Castellano patiently waited for the right moment to make his move.
After spending much of the race in seventh place and still in sixth just before reaching the stretch, Castellano pushed Point of Honor to the front when it counted most and held off Ulele to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Friday.
Fulfilling her role as the favourite, Point of Honor rallied marvellously from the outside to prevail in a duel to the wire by a half-length.
'I lost a little ground (early) but had a free trip," Castellano said. "I didn't have to get bounced around with the other horses. I didn't have to step aside. It worked out perfect."
It was her third win in four career races.
That one loss — in the Gulfstream Park Oaks in March — irked trainer George Weaver right up until this race.
"She just didn't seem quite as handy or responsive that day," Weaver said.
Now, he has a victory to celebrate.
"We drew a little outside today and you lose ground being wide, but I think she likes that kind of trip," Weaver said. "Javier drove her as such."
Starting from the No. 8 post in an eight-horse field, Castellano didn't press to get to the rail.
"I didn't have the best trip in the first turn. I had to go a bit wide, and in the second turn, too," he said. "But it worked out good because I was in the clear."
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Ulele paid $7.80 and $5.00 after being installed a 15-1 underdog in the morning line.
"She gave me a good trip," Rosario said. "Turning for home I thought we were going to get (Point of Honor), but that horse came up with a strong run at the end."
With jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, Cookie Dough bolted from the gate and led for much of the race before falling behind in the stretch.
"I had a perfect trip," Ortiz said. "She got the lead but was beaten by two nice fillies. No excuses."
Cookie Dough paid $3.80 to show. Brill took fourth, followed by Off Topic, Always Shopping, Las Setas and Our Super Freak.