Critical Value relishes stretch-out in Maid of the Mist

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

NYRA/Susie Raisher

By Sarah Mace

Ten Strike Racing’s homebred Critical Value by Bodemeister, rallied vigorously in the stretch to capture the 23rd running of the $250,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes which kicked off the stakes portion of the 2019 Empire Showcase Day program. The one-turn mile for juvenile fillies was the first of eight state-bred stakes with a combined purse of $1.75 million on the all-New York-bred card that annually showcases the top performers of the state’s breeding program at Belmont Park in the fall.

Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Critical Value has flashed ability in two prior starts, both at Saratoga. Unveiled on August 7, she came just a nose short of catching stablemate Thea’s Theme. Wheeling back in three weeks she broke her maiden at the Spa as the odds-on favorite going six furlongs. Since then, the bay filly has posted a steady series of breezes pointing toward this race. At the time of the draw, Englehart said, “I do believe she wants to stretch out, so [the Maid of the Mist] was always her next race after her maiden win in Saratoga.”

Breaking from post three under Junior Alvarado, aboard for both prior starts, Critical Value set up outside of horses in the clear, sitting a co-fourth in the early stages. Up front, Monmouth shipper Good Credence led the way through splits of 23.68 and 47.53, pushed along by Saratoga Beauty.

NYRA/Elsa Lorieul

Covering up even money favorite Naked Avenger along the backstretch, Critical Value went even wider in the turn, lost ground and landed in fifth midway round. Then, the blaze-faced filly seemed to rebreak and scampered up to join Good Creedence and Naked Avenger to make it three across the track just as the drive began.

Critical Value overhauled both rivals by midstretch, then spurted ahead in the final furlong on her way to a decisive 5 1/2-length win in a final time of 1:37.07 over the fast going. Naked Avenger came back to get up for second, a neck in front of Good Creedence in third. Firenze Freedom, Knight Train and Saratoga Beauty completed the order of finish. (VIDEO REPLAY)

Junior Alvarado explained that his filly dictated the drop-back in the turn. “I was in the clear the whole time. I was probably rushing her to be a little closer and I don’t think she was happy with that. She was telling me to leave her alone, so I waited until the five-sixteenths pole to make the run and she gave me a big explosion. I think she was just the best horse today.”

Englehart followed up, observing, “On the turn, it looked like she was falling back and Junior felt like it was only because he was asking her that she just didn’t respond to that. When he got her back against the bridle, she made the move and kudos to Junior to know that she’s still a 2-year-old and she’s still learning. His persistence definitely paid off.”

The conditioner added that Critical Value has been a pleasant surprise. “When Marshall [Gramm, partner Ten Strike Racing] sent her to us at Saratoga, we weren’t exactly sure what we had, but she’s one of those horses who just does everything that you ask her to do. She hasn’t been the flashiest of the 2-year-olds this year, but she’s been one of the most consistent and that really paid off today.”

Bred by Marshal K. Gramm and Clay Sanders, who compete as Ten Strike Racing, Critical Value is one of four winners from four foals to race and first stakes winner out of See the Forest, a Kentucky-bred winner and six-figure earner by Forestry claimed by Gramm for $12,000 out of a race at Philadelphia Park in 2010. Her second dam is New York-bred millionaire Critical Eye, the winner of five graded stakes including the Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap in 2000 and Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap in 2001.

See the Forest has a yearling colt by Munnings, a weanling by colt by Midnight Lute and was bred this year to Goldencents. From two wins and a second, Critical Value has earned $196,000.

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