My Mane Squeeze Boasts Strong Victory in Maddie May

February 18, 2024

My Mane Squeeze takes the Maddie May (Chelsea Durand)

By Mary Eddy – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— William Butler’s New York homebred My Mane Squeeze again asserted her dominance in her division with a strong victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Maddie May, a one-turn mile for state-bred sophomore fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Mike Maker, My Mane Squeeze notched her third consecutive state-bred stakes triumph on the heels of a similar 1 1/4-length score in the 6 1/2-furlong Franklin Square on January 14 and an open-lengths romp in the one-mile Maid of the Mist in October. The talented Audible dark bay, who was sent to post the 3-5 mutuel favorite, is a half-sister to the Maker-trained Butler homebred Rotknee, a graded stakes-placed multiple stakes-winner.

Butler said he and his wife Loretta were thrilled to see their beloved filly deliver yet another strong stakes performance.

“When you’ve got a 3-5 shot, my belly is churning,” said Butler, with a laugh. “When she took the lead there and started to spread out a little bit, I started to get real comfortable. I think I was hugging my wife by the time the finish line came up. I’m thrilled.”

Ridden to victory by Jose Lezcano, My Mane Squeeze broke well from the outermost post 10 and settled in third behind longshot pacesetter Blue Eyed Warrior with a rail-skimming Landed in second through the opening quarter-mile in 23.27 seconds over the fast main track.

The Jose Gomez-piloted Landed took charge down the backstretch as Blue Eyed Warrior backpedaled and My Mane Squeeze advanced to the outside of the retreating pacesetter through the half-mile in 47.59. Midway through the turn, Landed and My Mane Squeeze kicked well clear of the field and made it a two-horse race at the top of the stretch.

Landed maintained a precarious advantage once straightened for the drive to the wire, but My Mane Squeeze gained with every stride and collared her foe with ease at the eighth marker as seven furlongs elapsed in 1:26.90. My Mane Squeeze extended her margin under a hand ride through the final sixteenth to cross the wire wrapped up and 4 3/4 lengths in front in a final time of 1:40.64.

Landed was a clear second eight lengths ahead of Bernietakescharge, who edged Walk With Me out of show honors by a half-length. Midnight Concerto, Munny Grab, Cara’s Time, Baroness Bourbon, Rumint and the eased Blue Eyed Warrior completed the order of finish.

Lezcano, who was aboard last out in the considerably shorter Franklin Square, said My Mane Squeeze relished a return to one mile.

“She broke pretty good, especially a mile it gives you more time to find your stride,” said Lezcano. “I rode her like she’s the best horse in the race and kept her face clean. When I asked her, she kept going and won the race.

“I liked the number four [Landed] and wanted to keep her close to me and see what happens,” Lezcano added. “Stay close enough and when I asked, she kept going and won the race. She pretty good at a mile, seven-eighths. She’s pretty versatile.”

Butler, who attended Loyola College in Baltimore, reflected on his life-long dream of winning the nine-furlong Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan, which is slated for May 17 at Pimlico Race Course.

“There’s a joke to that – to the extent that the world wants to get into the Kentucky Oaks or the Kentucky Derby. I started watching horse racing down at Pimlico in ‘section double A’ at Pimlico, I would hang out there on a regular basis,” Butler explained. “On Fridays, there would be nobody there for the Black-Eyed Susan and I would see these magnificent fillies run. It was a goal I set back then – this is over 50 years ago.”

While Butler said he will leave race planning in the capable hands of Maker, a possible spot on the Aqueduct stakes calendar is the Grade 3, $200,000 Gazelle on April 6, a 100-50-25-15-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifier.

“I don’t have a plan. Mike has a plan and I follow Mike’s plan,” Butler said. “It’s gotten me here; why should I change?”

Lael Stable’s Landed made her first outing against winners for trainer Wesley Ward on the heels of an impressive second-out maiden score in December here. Gomez said the Omaha Beach bay was admirable in defeat.

“I knew we had speed outside, but she [Blue Eyed Warrior] stayed off of us,” said Gomez. “I know she can go relatively quick, but we didn’t go too fast – she’s more of a loose-rein, free runner. She was just second best today, but she’s definitely improving.”

My Mane Squeeze banked $55,000 in victory and improved her lifetime record to 6-4-0-2. She returned $3.30 on a $2 win ticket.

Live racing resumes Monday at the Big A with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

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