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Sheep Pond Partners, Newport Stables and Bradley Thoroughbreds’ Roca Rojo (IRE) edged a game Believe in Bertie by a head to win the 32nd running of the $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII) for fillies and mares.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Florent Geroux, Roca Rojo covered the mile on a “good” turf course in 1:37.53. The victory gave Brown back-to-back stakes victories having won the Humana Distaff (GI) with Paulassilverlining.
Believe in Bertie led the field of seven through fractions of :25.23 and :49.20 with Roca Rojo in closest pursuit. At the top of the stretch, Roca Rojo drew on even terms with Believe in Bertie and pushed slightly ahead only to have Believe in Bertie close the gap in deep stretch.
The victory was worth $182,280 to Roca Rojo, who increased her earnings to $491,542 with a record of 8-6-1-0 with two graded-stakes victories.
“I was right off the leader (Believe in Bertie),” said Florent Geroux, the winning rider. “My filly was closer than she usually is. She likes to sit back and make one run, but there was a lack of pace in the race. I decided to put her closer and make sure I wasn’t going to be trapped behind. Down the stretch, I thought I had it pretty easily, but the other filly tried to come back at her. My filly was the best.”
Juddmonte Farms’ Paulassilverlining moved past pacesetting Super Humor on the far turn and then held off a prolonged bid from Breeders’ Cup winner Finest City by a neck to win the 31st running of the $300,000 Humana Distaff (GI) for fillies and mares. The Humana Distaff was the first of seven graded stakes on Kentucky Derby Day.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Paulassilverlining covered the seven furlongs on a sloppy track in 1:23.68.
Paulassilverlining tracked Super Humor down the backstretch and moved toward the leader approaching the far turn with Finest City, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, and Carina Mia also on the move.
The trio hit the top of the stretch in that order with positions unchanged in the run to the wire. Paulassilverlining had finished third in the Breeders’ Cup, two lengths behind Finest City and Carina Mia had finished ninth as the favorite.
The victory was worth $182,280 to increase Paulassilverlining’s earnings to $1,371,230 with a record of 20-10-4-3. It was the second consecutive Grade I victory for the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Ghostzapper who had taken the Madison at Keeneland four weeks ago.
“No special instructions from Chad (trainer Chad Brown),” said Jose Ortiz. “He said, ‘You know this filly; ride her like you know how.’ She was extra game today but she’s like that every time. She always shows up and gives her best. She showed up today.”
Chad Brown as happy, too. “She had no trouble with the track and Jose (Ortiz) gave her a great ride. He got her off the rail early, put her in a stalking position and got the jump on everybody.”
WILD SHOT ROMPS IN PAT DAY MILE
Calumet Farm’s homebred Wild Shot rocketed by pace-setting Uncontested at the head of the stretch and romped to a four-length victory over No Dozing to win the 93rd running of the $250,000 Pat Day Mile for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Rusty Arnold and ridden by Corey Lanerie, Wild Shot covered the mile on a muddy track in 1:35.67.
Uncontested led the field of 12 through early fractions of :22.24 and :44.79 with Wild Shot in closest pursuit. On the far turn, Lanerie sent Wild Shot after Uncontested and at the top of the stretch swept past with no resistance from the pacesetter and drew off for the victory.
The victory was worth $142,600 and increased Wild Shot’s earnings to $318,200 with a record of 8-2-2-2. It was the first stakes victory for Wild Shot who had placed in three other graded stakes.
Wild Shot is a Kentucky-bred son of Trappe Shot out of the Storm Cat mare Ranter.
ARKLOW SPRINGS UPSET IN AMERICAN TURF
Donegal Racing’s Arklow rallied from off the pace to spring a 15-1 upset by a length over Good Samaritan in the 26th running of the $300,000 American Turf (Grade II) presented by Ram Trucks for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Mike Smith, Arklow covered the mile and a sixteenth on a “good” turf course in 1:44.64. It was the third win in the race for Smith who won the first running in 1992 on Senor Tomas and in 1994 with Jaggery John.
Oscar Performance, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI) winner, led the field of 10 through fractions of :23.85 and :48.46 while Arklow raced near the back of the pack. Approaching the far turn, Arklow began to pick up the leaders and entering the stretch was swung five wide for clear running.
Arklow struck the front at the sixteenth pole and was not challenged the rest of the way.
The victory was worth $176,700 and increased Arklow’s earnings to $244,987 with a record of 7-2-1-1. The Kentucky-bred son of Arch out of the Empire Maker mare Unbridled Empire is unbeaten in two grass races.
“It was just like they told me,” said rider Mike Smith. “Honestly, they said ‘Mike, you’ll be somewhat forward early. They had told me they wished it was a mile and quarter. (Trainer) Brad (Cox) said don’t be afraid to get brave with him. If I got him clear, he said go ahead and let him start going a little early. He said he’d keep going and he was a 100 percent right. I’m glad they told me that. Normally on the grass you want to wait and make one run. If I had done that, I probably would have lost the race. I’m just happy to be riding for these owners. They’re good friends of mine.”