Still There captures Laurel’s Twixt in stakes debut

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

By Sarah Mace

Employing a perfectly-executed a stalk-and-pounce strategy, PTK LLC’s Still There scored a convincing open-length victory in her stakes debut Saturday, the $75,000 Twixt Stakes at Laurel Park. The Twixt was only the fourth date with the starter for the 4-year-old blaze-faced daughter of Union Rags.

Unveiled by trainer Dane Kobiskie on April 18, Still There reeled off two straight wins to open her account, breaking her maiden at Keeneland by two-plus lengths going six furlongs, and airing by 7 1/2 lengths going seven furlongs in Belmont slop on May 27. Most recently, when she stretched out and gave turf a try in a second-level state-bred allowance, she finished last as the post-time favorite.

Returning to her preferred dirt surface in the Twixt and cutting back to seven furlongs, Still There was relatively ignored at the windows, as bettors gravitated to stakes winner Bishop’s Pond (2-1 favorite), multiple stakes winner Lake Ponchatrain (5-2) and multiple graded stakes winner Tequilita (3-1). Still There went post-ward with Jevian Toledo in the irons as the fifth choice of seven at odds of 6-1.

Having stalked successfully in her two winning efforts, Still There embarked on the same strategy in the Twixt. After the bell she set up in third, two lengths behind pacesetter Magician and one length off Bishop’s Pond in second. The early fractions went in a reasonable 22.82 and 45.50.

In the far turn Still There drew even with Bishop’s Pond as the pair issued a challenge to Magician. Negotiating the turn three-deep, she advanced into contention and poked a head in front at the head of the stretch.

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

Kept to business by her jockey in the charge for the wire, Still There gradually extended her lead to 3 1/2 lengths by the finish. Lake Ponchatrain closed into second, a neck ahead of Bishop’s Pond, who weakened to third. Completing the order of finish were Tequilita, Magical, Power of Snunner and outsider Not Taken. New York-bred Absatootly was scratched. The final time for seven furlongs over the fast track was 1:21.72.

“She’s a nice filly,” said Toledo, Maryland’s leading rider in 2015 and 2017. “[The trainer] told me he got her ready today, and he was right. I just put her in a great spot and when I asked her she gave me everything she had. I had plenty of horse. In the last part, I just put my stick away.”

Trainer Dane Kobiskie is a former jockey who won his share of of races at Laurel and, as a trainer, won the Laurel Park meet titles in 2011 and 2012. He said, “It’s good to be back when you win like this. We’ve just been gone for a few years.”

Kobiskie continued, “I brought a few horses to run this weekend and she was the main reason for coming. She’s a New York-bred and I had run her on the grass up there because they didn’t have any long dirt races for her. She didn’t like the grass at all and this was our [next] option. The race came up a little bit tougher than I thought it would, but we decided to go ahead and run anyway.”

Bred by Joanne T. Nielsen, Still There is one of five winners produced by Kentucky-bred mare Forever Smart. A stakes-placed turf runner by Smart Strike, Forever Smart and is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Raging Daoust (Kafwain). Bred by Arthur B. Hancock III, she last changed hands at public auction when purchased by Find a Cure Stable for $21,000 at the 2010 Keeneland November sale,

Forever Smart’s Blue Baby, by Touch Gold is a multiple stakes performer and all the winners she has produced have earned six figures, topped by her New York-bred Scat Daddy gelding Forever in Love, who has banked nearly $225,000. The mare also has a juvenile filly by Flatter named Mesa Member and an unnamed yearling full-sister to Still There.

PTK purchased Still There at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale from the Summerfield consignment for $200,000. From her three wins Still There has banked earnings of $119,900.

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