English Soul wins the Fleet Indian Stakes in a four-horse blanket finish

Friday, August 24th, 2018

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

By Bill Heller

Those of us who live in Thoroughbred racing sometimes take for granted what is absolutely astonishing. Imagine four three-year-old fillies separated by inches at the finish line after running a mile-and-an-eighth in a $200,000 stakes race. That’s exactly what happened on New York-bred Showcase Day at Saratoga Friday.

Zilla Racing Stable’s English Soul, flawlessly ridden by Manny Franco from the extreme outside post in the field of 11, got a nose past front-running Take Charge Aubrey and Jose Ortiz to win the mile-and-an-eighth $200,000 Fleet Indian Stakes for three-year-old fillies.

Just a head behind Take Charge Aubrey were Split Time and Junior Alvarado in third. And a neck behind her was Indy’s Lady and Irad Ortiz Jr. in fourth.

English Soul was 4-1, Take Charge Aubrey 5-2, Split Time 3-1 and Indy’s Lady 10-1.

Mia Gallo, Dave Stack and Arlene Wilkins bred English Soul, a daughter of English Channel out of Soul Possession by Belong To Me who sold for $55,000 as a two-year-old in 2017, and is trained by Raymond Handal.

NYRA/Coglianese Photos

English Soul raced four times as a two-year-old finishing second and sixth on grass and first twice on dirt, winning a maiden race on a sloppy track at Belmont Park by 14 1/4 lengths and a New York-bred allowance by seven lengths at Aqueduct, again on a sloppy track. She then ran her dirt record to three-for-three by adding a 2 3/4 length victory in the $100,000 East View Stakes at Aqueduct in her first race on a fast track, Jan. 14.

English Soul had made only two starts since. She finished second in the $125,000 Bouwerie on March 28 at Belmont Park under Franco, then a front-running third by two lengths at Finger Lakes in the New York Oaks at on July 21.

Franco regained the mount at Saratoga and he had no choice but to take English Soul wide around the first turn to be forwardly placed. “I was a little concerned when I saw her four-wide into the first turn,” Handel said. “That was definitely not ideal.”

Regardless, it kept English Soul near enough to front-running Take Charge Aubrey through splits of :23.67, :48.66 and 1:12.51. Take Charge Aubrey put away the filly chasing her in second, 66-1 Cause We Are Loyal and Jose Lezcano, only to have English Soul take her on as Split Time rallied into third and Indy’s Lady arrived late on the scene.

With 200 yards to go, any of the four could have won. The one who did, English Soul, was outside of Take Charge Aubrey while inside the other two closers. The photo finish showed English Soul had won while Take Charge Aubrey suffered the toughest kind of beat. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“I waited as long as I could,” Franco said. “She was game.”

She always is. English Soul is now four-for-six on dirt with one second and one third. She also has one third from two turf tries for total earnings of more than $285,000.

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