Ratajkowski worth the wait with victorious seasonal debut in Critical Eye

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Coglianese Photos

By Brian Bohl courtesy of

Gary Broad’s Ratajkowski looked fresh off a seven-month layoff, leading a six-horse field through every point of call and repelling Mrs. Orb’s furious bid in the final sixteenth for a victory by a neck in Thursday’s one-mile $125,000 Critical Eye for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Belmont Park.

Ratajkowski, the 6-5 second choice, broke alertly under jockey Jose Ortiz, edging even-money favorite More Mischief at the front with an opening quarter-mile in 22.64 seconds, the half in 45.10 and three-quarters in 1:09.04 over the fast main track.

Out of the turn, Ortiz kept Ratajkowski tucked inside, where she pulled away from More Mischief. But Mrs. Orb, under Dylan Davis, gained ground and made a strong bid from the outside. Despite making her first start since November, the 6-year-old stayed on strong down the lane, hitting the wire in a final time of 1:35.05.

Unraced until her 5-year-old year, Ratajkowski went 4-1-1 in 2019, including a win in the Empire Distaff in October at Belmont for trainer Brian Lynch. Transferred to the care of conditioner Graham Motion, the Drosselmeyer daughter trained at Fair Hill in Maryland before her awaited 6-year-old debut and responded by winning for the fourth time in five starts over Belmont’s Big Sandy.

“She’s a nice filly; very big and has a beautiful stride and also has some speed, so we used it early and then she got going,” Ortiz said. “If they have speed and have the stride she does, just don’t get in their way. They’ll prove that they have a lot of ability. You don’t want to get in their way unless someone else goes crazy. We went kind of fast. But she always throws those kinds of fractions. She’s fast and she stays. She has speed and stamina, so she’s easy to ride.”

Ratajkowski, bred by John Hicks and H & H Farm, returned $4.70 on a $2 win wager. She increased her career earnings to $369,490.

“I thought the race was going to be between me and Manny’s filly [Franco, aboard More Mischief], but I don’t know if Manny’s filly wants to go that long,” Ortiz said. “I knew if I set a good, fast-controlled pace, she couldn’t keep up with my filly and that’s what happened. But I wasn’t counting on Mrs. Orb flying late.”

Mrs. Orb, off at 17-1 for trainer Michael Miceli, had capped her 2019 campaign with four straight victories, including a nose win in the Bay Ridge on December 29 at Aqueduct, before running sixth in the Biogio’s Rose on February 9 at the Big A. Making her first start at Belmont since besting allowance company in October, the 5-year-old Orb mare was 3 ¼-lengths clear of More Mischief for second.

“She ran hard and almost got there,” Davis said. “She ran great off the layoff.” The Great Johanna and No Hayne No Hayne completed the order of finish. English Soul bore out around the turn, was pulled up and walked home under her own power.


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