On July 2, the day before jockey Ryan Fogelsonger was scheduled to fly to California to ride 3-year-old turf filly Western Ransom in the Grade I American Oaks, he fell off a horse at Colonial Downs and wound up in the hospital. Western Ransom finished 10th in that race, but both horse and rider gained redemption Saturday afternoon, teaming to win the Grade III $150,000 Martha Washington Breeders' Cup on the grass at Pimlico Race Course.
The victory showed the special touch Fogelsonger at times appears to have with his mounts. Western Ransom looked hopelessly beaten turning for home, fanned six wide on the far turn as front-runner Plenty bounded along four lengths in front of the field. Somehow, between hard urging with his hands and the crack of the whip, Fogelsonger coaxed Western Ransom into furiously accelerating, and the filly gobbled up ground to win by a head.
"It wasn't how I got there, it was how she got there," said Fogelsonger, 23, of Silver Spring, after the race. "She knew she had another horse to beat, and she runs and runs and runs. There was a cluster at the quarter pole; I didn't want to go that wide."
Western Ransom, Kentucky-bred and trained by Michael Dickinson at Tapeta Farm in North East, Md., has started twice in stakes races at Pimlico and won both. She took the $50,000 Hilltop Stakes in May, but this was her first graded victory.
She ran the 11/16-mile turf race in 1 minute 43.26 seconds, earning $90,000 for owner-breeder John Chandler.
Jon Ferriday, an assistant to Dickinson, said the trainer was eager to reunite Fogelsonger with Western Ransom. She had run twice since winning the Hilltop with him and lost both races.
"He's an understanding jockey," Ferriday said. "He's one with the horse. When we have horses running here, we try to get Ryan on them. For a young lad, he has loads of confidence."
Fogelsonger expected an easier time in the race restricted to 3-year-old fillies. He told Dickinson before the race he expected the first half-mile to be run in about 47 seconds and it went in 47.56 seconds, despite Plenty getting an easy, uncontested lead.
"The race set up just like we expected," said Plenty's rider, Abel Castellano Jr. "When we got to the quarter-pole, I asked her to run and she responded."
Western Ransom, normally in the first flight of runners behind the leaders, dawdled along in eighth before Fogelsonger finally woke her up. Even then, victory looked doubtful.
"I think I was having kittens when she came across the line," Ferriday said.
Racing Notes: With an explosive move on the far turn, 14-1 shot Fantasticat pulled away to win the Grade II $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Ridden by jockey Gary Melancon and trained by Bobby Barnett, the 3-year-old son of Storm Cat won the biggest race of his career, taking the 11/8-mile race in 1:51.40. Borrego, beaten three times this spring by Smarty Jones, including a seventh-place finish in the Preakness, got up late to finish second. Favorite Imperialism, third in the Kentucky Derby, finished off the board. . . .
Diamond David, a half-brother to former Maryland star Magic Weisner, broke his maiden by 131/2 lengths in the fourth race at Pimlico. . . .
Pre-entries for the Maryland Million close at midnight Tuesday. Presidential Affair, second this summer to the top horse Ghostzapper in the Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, is expected to run in the $200,000 Maryland Million Classic.