Stonewall Star a much the best winner of the Wide Country (Maryland Jockey Club)
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
LAUREL, Md.— Barry Schwartz’s homebred Stonewall Star, already a two-time stakes winner over New York-breds, turned in a career-best performance in her third try against open company with a front-running 11-length triumph in the $100,000 Wide Country.
Ridden by Angel Cruz for trainer Horacio DePaz, Stonewall Star ($5.60) covered seven furlongs in 1:24.33 over a fast main track for her fourth win from seven career starts and first outside of New York.
“She’s pretty straightforward. She likes to run on the lead, just try not to go too quick too early,” DePaz said. “She’s just in good form right now.”
Cruz, aboard for the first time, was able to guide Stonewall Star to the front from outermost Post 6 and sailed through splits of 23.07 and 46.42 seconds chased by Jan. 21 Xtra Heat winner L Street Lady on the inside along with multiple stakes-placed Gormley’s Gabriela and Maryland Million Lassie winner Chickieness.
L Street Lady began to drop back midway around the far turn as Chickieness and Gormley’s Gabriela tried to make up ground, but Stonewall Star had plenty left to gain separation from her rivals and keep going, opening up impressively through the lane.
Chickieness was second, 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Gormley’s Gabriela. We’ll See, 2022 Golden Gate Debutante winner Sally’s Sassy and L Street Lady completed the order of finish.
“She’s definitely filled out much more than what she was,” DePaz said. “Mentally she’s just really in the zone right now.”
Stonewall Star won the six-furlong Key Cents last fall and came out of a 6 ¼-length triumph in the 6 ½-furlong Franklin Square Jan. 22, both at Aqueduct. She tried seven furlongs once before in her only prior trip to Laurel, where she led into the stretch before tiring to third behind then-undefeated Malibu Moonshine in the Dec. 30 Gin Talking.
“I thought they would press her a little bit more,” DePaz said. “That was my concern because the last time with the seven-eighths she was on the lead and took everybody on and just came up short that last sixteenth. But today, she was right.”
The Wide Country is the next step in Laurel’s 3-year-old filly stakes series that began with the Xtra Heat and continues with the $100,000 Beyond the Wire going one mile March 18 and $125,000 Weber City Miss April 15, a 1 1/16-mile ‘Win and In’ qualifier for the 99th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 19 at Pimlico.
“The question is how far she would go, and she handled the seven [furlongs] perfectly fine. We’ll continue to let her tell us,” DePaz said. “We’ll go back to New York and maybe back to Maryland. She’s got options, that’s for sure.”
Wide Country was Maryland’s Horse of the Year in 1991 when she won eight of 13 starts as a 3-year-old, each of her victories coming in stakes, led by the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Pimlico Oaks (G3). She placed in four other graded stakes including the Barbara Fritchie (G2) and Go for Wand (G1) in 1992 and was retired with 12 wins and $819,728 in purses earned from 26 starts.