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Sensitive squeezes out victory over Stave, Valentine Wish to take $75,000 Ellis Park Turf stakes


LNJ Foxwoods’ 5-year-old mare Sensitive had finished second in her three prior races in 2019 and in five of 13 career starts. But she got a breakthrough stakes victory Sunday in the $75,000 Ellis Park Turf, prevailing by a head over Stave in a four-horse rush to the finish.

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan sent the Brad Cox-trained Sensitive through a narrow opening between horses in the final yards to eek out the victory, covering 1 1/16 miles over firm turf in 1:40.99 with a final sixteenth-mile in 5.65 seconds. The 9-5 favorite, Sensitive paid $5.60 to win.

“I thought she stuck her neck out enough that she did,” Bridgmohan said of winning. “I was just sitting behind, waiting for something to open up. She was very handy today and gave me a good shot to do what I needed. The hole opened up, and she was fast enough to get through it. She’s a horse who tries very hard and got a very deserved stakes win.”

Sensitive squeezed between front-running Valentine Wish and Stave to narrowly win the Ellis Park Turf under Shaun Bridgmohan. (Coady Photography)


Said Cox: “Shaun did a great job-saving ground on both turns. He kind of had to make a split there between fillies down the lane. I think that’s the trip she needs to win. Shaun has ridden her several times. She’s had three seconds this year. It’s been tough to get her to the winner’s circle. But she pulled through today, and it was a big effort. Very proud of her. Like I said, Shaun did a great job riding her, saving ground around both turns and getting her head down.”

Valentine Wish, at 22-1 odds, was allowed to set a tepid pace, the first quarter-mile in 24.98 seconds and the half-mile in 49.38 before the field picked it up. Stave, with Gabriel Saez aboard, was closest in pursuit and joined in the extended drive through the stretch to just miss the victory. Valentine Wish held on to come in another head back in third, while Kallio rallied from last of eight fillies and mares to take fourth, losing by a total of three-quarters of a length. Rounding out the field were Smart Shot, American Frolic, Lady Mamba and Flammetta, with Over Thinking scratched.

“It was close. It was a good race,” trainer Larry Jones said of Stave, who also was trying to win her first stakes. “That’s what you’re supposed to have here. To run second in her first stakes try, we’re going to have to be happy, I guess. We had intended to win, but we didn’t make it.”

James Graham said the Vicki Oliver-trained Valentine Wish “ran her eyeballs out” in the near-upset.

“I was trying to steal it, and it nearly happened,” he said. “Good racing, good horses. She was only beaten a neck.”

Jockey Julien Leparoux said the slow pace compromised Kallio.

“My filly is kind of one you have to cover up and take her back from the beginning,” he said. “If not, she’ll pull and do too much early on. There was a slow pace. She ran a big race. Just kind of unlucky. Then at the quarter pole, everybody kind of stuck together, so I had to wait even more. But she ran a big race.”

Sensitive, who was second by a half-length in the New Orleans Ladies and second by a neck in the Lone Star Turf this year, now is 4-5-1 in 14 starts, earning $235,936 with the $45,000 payday. Far more important than the money is what winning a stakes meant for the broodmare career of the daughter of the Airdrie Stud stallion Divine Park and the Include mare Kittery Point, who also produced Grade 1 winner Sam’s Sister.

“This filly always trains extremely well,” Cox said. “We picked her up at the beginning of her 3-year-old year, had a couple of setbacks with her. She’s tough. She means a lot to us. She’s a nice filly. It was big for her to get that stakes win with her pedigree. She’s a big, pretty filly; she cost a lot of money as a yearling ($475,000 at Keeneland). This was big to get this victory with her.”

Cox, Ellis Park’s defending training leader, now has a meet-leading six victories, along with a second and a third, out of 13 starts.

In the jockeys’ race, Miguel Mena holds a 7-5 lead in wins over Brian Hernandez Jr., who won three races Sunday.

Ellis Park/JR Communications


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