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Pennybaker dazzles on US debut in Heavenly Cause


Pennybaker produced a superb performance on her first start in North America as she routed the opposition in the Heavenly Cause Stakes at Laurel Park on Saturday, 16 April.

The Medaglia d’Oro four-year-old, making her dirt debut for Michael Stidham on the back of four straight all-weather wins for Henri-Alex Pantall in France, broke on terms in the mile contest and settled in fourth towards the outside of the field.

Pennybaker went third leaving the far turn and cruised up under Jevian Toledo to dispute the running turning in. She readily took charge of affairs, streaking clear in the straight before coasting home to score by nearly seven lengths.

Michael Stidham said: “Michael Banahan told us that Pennybaker was coming to us and mentioned that the plan would be to see how she worked on the dirt because she has so much dirt in her pedigree. She came to us in great condition and has never missed a day.

“When we got her, she never did a thing wrong in any of her work on dirt – we worked her out of the gate, behind horses and did everything we could to see if she could handle it. She passed every test and gave us a lot of confidence going into this.

“Pennybaker gave us all the signals that she was this type of quality. She is a very classy filly in everything that she does and we will be looking to step up another notch to G3 or G2 company now.”

Jevian Toledo added: “Pennybaker is such a nice filly and put me in a great spot the whole way round. I came for home and still had plenty of horse underneath me. She had never been on the dirt but had been schooling in behind on the surface and had taken to it really well.

“I think she is a really special filly. From the half-mile, I was clear on the outside and I knew that I had a ton of horse. When I asked her, she exploded.”