Samantha Nicole Shows Positive Signs in Keeneland Maiden Win
Samantha Nicole Shows Positive Signs in Keeneland Maiden Win: Proving patience works, Samantha Nicole broke her maiden at Keeneland in her fourth try. Because of her notoriety as a full sister to 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, Samantha Nicole has attracted attention from the time she was born. Not only did the four-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly win for owner Stonestreet Stables and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, she overcame adversity which gives fans grounds for optimism going forward.
When the gates opened, Samantha Nicole veered out from the outside post position, but jockey Jose Lezcano quickly adjusted with his right arm and sent the filly back with the leaders. She recovered nicely to engage herself in the race. Certain horses gain confidence when they lead or stay near the front as opposed to losing contact early and becoming discouraged. Samantha Nicole gives the impression of being that type of filly.
The awkward start and post position meant Samantha Nicole ran wide on the first turn. Despite that, she remained involved throughout the far side. Approaching the second turn, Samantha Nicole began to move of her own will as the longshot early pacesetter Our Rockin Ruby dropped quickly. Spanish Flower fought on to the inside of Samantha Nicole. The latter seemed to have her measure though, even with a wide trip.
Finally, in the stretch drive Lezcano asked Samantha Nicole, and she responded by drawing away. As pointed out in previous articles, a good sign in dirt racing is when the field separates towards the end. The chart notes that she won by three lengths over Spanish Flower, and there were more than three lengths back to third-place finisher A.P. Sonata. The third- through fifth-place horses finished in a close group. This means that Samantha Nicole and Spanish Flower ran well while the others need some improving.
If there is one downside to her Keeneland win, it’s that the time is a bit slow on raw times. They went in :24.59 for the first quarter, :49.81 for the half, 1:15.85 for six furlongs, and 1:40.80 for one mile. Samantha Nicole finished up in 1:53.40. Keeneland’s dirt is never on the quick side, making the raw fractions difficult to judge. The speed figures might offer a better hint.
Samantha Nicole started her career under trainer Steve Asmussen’s care, the same man who guided Rachel Alexandra throughout her champion season. Asmussen entered the filly in a Fair Grounds race, and she broke poorly, hitting the gate before making a belated move for second. Then, she went on a layoff and switched to McLaughlin’s barn. For McLaughlin, she improved slightly at Saratoga in a nine-furlong August maiden race, finishing fourth after breaking much better and showing improved early speed.
After another layoff, she returned at Gulfstream Park last month and finished sixth in her next maiden attempt. The poor break cost her again, and she never threatened.
Now with a win under her belt, Samantha Nicole appears likely to go for an optional claimer or allowance race. From watching how she handled this field, maybe even minor stakes races are in Samantha’s future. At the least, she inherited her sister’s preference for showing speed. She will never accomplish the feats of Rachel Alexandra, nor should anyone expect her to reach such incredible heights. Even so, Samantha Nicole is a decent filly in her own right.
Watch the video replay on Keeneland’s official website by clicking on April 18 and Race 1.