Making the winning move away from the gate, Julio Garcia rode Ultra Sass to a wire-to-wire victory in the $42,360 Black Swan Stakes Wednesday at Fairplex Park.
While several of her rivals had trouble, Ultra Sass turned back every challenge, holding off 18-1 outsider Nat's Lea by a neck. Teach Us was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third, and Saratoga Success ran extremely wide while finishing fourth. Favored Brazen tired and was sixth in the field of eight 2-year-old fillies.
Sent off at 7-2, Ultra Sass paid $9.40, covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:45 1/5.
"We told Garcia to stay back a couple lengths and let Brazen and Teach Us have the lead," said Leandro Mora, assistant to trainer Brian Mayberry. "The only problem was, nobody wanted the lead. So we just stayed there."
Coming off a maiden victory at Del Mar, Ultra Sass earned $24,360.
"I was really worried about Teach Us," Mora said. "After we put away Brazen, Teach Us came back on. Nat's Lea was somewhat of a surprise."
Brazen, winner of the six-furlong Bustles And Bows Stakes, pressed the pace between horses before fading in the final quarter. Nat's Lea saved ground around the far turn, and Teach Us was blocked behind horses through the entire backstretch.
David Flores and Omar Berrio each had a riding double. Flores increased his meeting-victory lead to 24-18 over Julio Garcia. . . . Roger Stein, Mike Mitchell, Bill Spawr, Alfredo Marquez and Bryan Webb are tied for the training lead with four victories apiece.
Trainer Bill Shoemaker, the sport's winningest jockey, will try for his second Fairplex Park victory in today's $50,000-added Gateway to Glory Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Shoemaker saddles Palmdale, the impressive winner of the recent Beau Brummel Stakes.
Nobody picked six winners in Wednesday's Pick 6. Today's carryover is $19,837. . . . Complaining of illness, jockey Martin Pedroza was excused from his mounts Wednesday. . . . Jockey Nate Hubbard avoided injury when he was unseated on the clubhouse turn in the fifth race. Hubbard was aboard She's Dreamin, who stumbled when caught in close quarters.