Funny Approval went to the front and never looked back, posting an upset victory in the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park on Saturday.
A maiden win and two allowance scores at Mountaineer Park over the off-going were the credentials Funny Approval brought to Laurel's seven-furlong Winter SprintFest fixture, leaving the daughter of Outrageouslyfunny a distinct outsider in the field of eight fillies and mares. Trainer Jose Lopez and jockey Juan Vargas were also virtual unknowns in the Mid-Atlantic region, but they won't be after Saturday.
Funny Approval outstepped post-time favorite My Wandy's Girl to take the lead. At the finish line she was three-quarters of a length in front of My Wandy's Girl, with another long shot, Withgreatpleasure, rallying to take third.
The win was the first graded-stakes score for Vargas, who relocated to the United States from Peru in 2010 and rides regularly at Mountaineer, Turfway Park and Presque Isle Downs.
The winner's time for the distance over the muddy going was 1 minute, 25.29 seconds, and she paid $45.80.
Concealed Identity, who was fourth in the John B. Campbell Handicap at Laurel Park last year, won the race Saturday — but not without controversy.
Three horses ended up in a furious drive to the finish line, with Concealed Identity on the outside, Service for Ten, the even-money favorite, on the inside and Norman Asbjornson trying his best to find a way between them. Service for Ten bore into Norman Asbjornson, forcing him into Concealed Identity. Norman Asbjornson fell back to third as Concealed Identity crossed the finish line first.
After an inquiry and a claim of foul, Concealed Identity was declared the winner, Norman Asbjornson was placed second and Service for Ten was disqualified to third.
The winner tracked Service for Ten throughout before ranging up to engage and pass the front runner. He won by three-quarters of a length and his winning time was 1:52.29 for the 11/8-mile distance. Concealed Identity, who won two stakes races as a 3-year-old in 2011 and competed in the Preakness, paid $17.
'Rachel' still serious
Rachel Alexandra remained in serious condition Friday at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., after surgery to repair a section of her small colon injured when she foaled a filly three days earlier, Bloodhorse reported.
However, the 2009 Horse of the Year and Preakness winner has shown signs of progress and earned the praise of attending veterinarians Bonnie Barr and Brett Woodie, according to the report.
Bloodhorse said Barr and Woodie indicated that Rachel Alexandra's vital signs remain normal and that she was brighter, more alert, and demonstrating an improved attitude Friday.