Waterville Lake Stables’ Portmagee stayed perfect in 2017, posting a gate-to-wire victory in the $ 150,000 License Fee for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up on the inner turf on Sunday at Belmont Park.
The 4-year-old daughter of Hard Spun departed from the outside post and set early fractions of 22.62 seconds for a quarter-mile with the half going in 45.31. Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. then piloted Portmagee to the inside and fended off a charging Miss Ella in the stretch to win her stakes debut by 1 ½ lengths.
“She put me in a good position where I got the lead. She was perfect,” Ortiz said. “She was ready today. There wasn’t much speed in the race. Everything worked out perfect. She has some talent.”
Off at 6-1, the Christophe Clement trainee won her second consecutive start, improving to 2-for-2 on the year, completing 6 ½ furlongs in 1:08.71. Portmagee, who has three wins in her last four starts, paid $ 16.60 on a $ 2 win wager and more than doubled her career earnings, bringing the total to $ 171,500.
“This filly came from a very nice race at Gulfstream about six weeks or so ago,” Clement said. “It’s nice, it’s her first stakes race and she’s black type now. She was perfectly manageable and Irad gave her a great ride. He moved her up then slowed down just a little bit. She was the first one to kick and the final time was OK.”
Portmagee’s maiden-breaking victory on July 13 at Belmont was the only time in her first four starts she led wire-to-wire. The License Fee victory also marked the first time Ortiz rode the Kentucky bred chestnut filly.
“We’ve always thought she was going to be a nice filly,” Clement said. “We didn’t think she was necessarily going to win today, but we expected her to be competitive. This is great.”
Miss Ella, trained by Graham Motion, was the runner-up in her first start since winning the Grade 3 Franklin County on October 14 at Keeneland. Summer Reading, for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, finished third.
Fair Point, Quality Rocks and Hip Hop N Jazz completed the order of finish.
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