American Girl and Peter Wrenn made their seasonal debut a winning one at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino as they captured the featured event, a $22,000 Invitational pace for fillies and mares, on Friday. After winning an epic stretch duel, the 5-year-old mare bested her rivals with a final time of 1:55.2 in front of a packed house that turned out for the opening night of the season.
Leaving from post 6, American Girl was unhurried from the gate and settled along the rail in fifth as the rest of the field fought for position. Ed Hensley and Pacific Date were the first to get a call and reached the first quarter mark in :28.4. Nutmegs Yankee and Ross Leonard opted for a pocket trip while No Respect and Tyler Smith followed intently in third. Pacific Date and Ed Hensley were left uncontested on the front and leisurely strolled to a :59.2 second panel.
Feeling the pressure of the slow fractions, Tyler Smith tipped No Respect from the rail and began a powerful first-over bid with Blissful Romance and Ricky Macomber Jr. in tow. No Respect was able to clear to front through the three-quarter clocking in 1:27.2 but was quickly joined by Blissful Romance on the outside.
As the field turned for home, Blissful Romance was able to put away No Respect but still had her work cut out for her as American Girl came charging from behind. Using a :27.3 final panel, American Girl turned in a gritty performance to get the victory.
"What a race,” winning driver Wrenn noted in winner's circle. "I didn't know if we would be able to make up enough ground off the slow fractions, but she wanted to win tonight. She did all the work.”
As the heavy betting favorite, American Girl returned $3.60 to her backers for the win. Blissful Romance was a hard fought second while Igottafeelinfran and Brad Hanners rounded out the trifecta.
Trained by Ernie Gaskin, American Girl notched her 15th win from 56 career stars while amassing $381,658 in purse earnings. The 5-year-old daughter of Art's Chip-L Dees Lourdes is owned by Darla Gaskin and Stanley Rosenblatt. (Hoosier Park)