Blue Prize makes Spinster first Grade 1 triumph
Courtesy of Marty McGee of DRF.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Maybe it’s just a Kentucky thing, period. Blue Prize already had compiled a terrific record at Churchill Downs, but it was at Keeneland on Sunday that the 5-year-old Argentine-bred mare knocked out the first Grade 1 victory of her career in the 63rd running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster.
Ridden by Joe Bravo, Blue Prize looped into contention with a half-mile to run in the 1 1/8-mile Spinster, then spurted clear before holding sway despite racing erratically down the stretch. Her margin under the wire was three-quarters of a length over Champagne Problems, as older horses swept the top four finishing positions in a race in which 3-year-olds were the top two favorites.
“She’s a phenomenal mare,” said Ignacio Correas, who also was recording the first Grade 1 victory in North America. “This means a lot.”
Blue Prize, ridden by Joe Bravo, returned $11 as third choice in a field of 11 fillies and mares after finishing in 1:50.02 over a fast track.
After getting past the fading leaders at the quarter-pole and drawing clear, Blue Prize suddenly veered away sharply from the inner rail, angling toward the outer rail while maintaining a sizable lead as Champagne Problems gained ground up the rail.
It was of no consequence, as Bravo kept his mount going with a few right-handed whacks of his whip.
“She made the race exciting, didn’t she?” laughed Bravo. “I got into her left-handed a few times (after turning for home). I don’t know if it was the stick that caused it.
“She has a beautiful stride. I thought, ‘She’s better than everybody in here.’ Wow, she’s talented.”
For Blue Prize, owned by the Merriebelle Stable of John Moores and Charles Noell, this was the second Win and You’re In race she captured for automatic entry into the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill, following the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis in June. The chestnut daughter of Pure Prize has won three graded stakes within the last year at Churchill, with the Grade 2 Falls City last fall and the Grade 3 Locust Grove in September being the others. Still, she will have to be supplemented to the Breeders’ Cup, which Correas said will happen.
“As good as she has run there, we have to go,” he said.
On a hot and humid afternoon, and with 14,223 in attendance, 90-1 shot Southernperfection set the pace in splits of 23.79, 47.62, and 1:12.27 when followed closest by Sassy Sienna. Entering the final turn, Blue Prize really got moving, and as the early leaders faded, it was her race to lose. Only Champagne Problems – who was beaten a nose by Blue Prize in the Locust Grove – posed a viable late threat after shaking loose from traffic under Calvin Borel.
“She ran her race – we just got outrun,” Borel said.
Pacific Wind finished third, another 1 1/2 lengths behind Champagne Problems, while 70-1 shot Fuhriously Kissed was along late for fourth.
Trainer Ian Wilkes said he will confer with the group that owns Champagne Problems in regard to the BC Distaff. Likewise, trainer Kenny McPeek said he and the owners of Eskimo Kisses, who was no factor when finishing seventh, also would evaluate their BC status in the coming days.
Eskimo Kisses was the 19-10 favorite off a last-out triumph in the Grade 1 Alabama, while another 3-year-old, Talk Veuve to Me, was the 2-1 second choice. Talk Veuve to Me attended the early pace from a favorable position but had no late response when finishing sixth. Three other 3-year-olds also started – Chocolate Martini (fifth), Skeptic (eighth), and Sassy Sienna (11th).
Blue Prize now has seven wins and seven seconds from 16 career starts and has earned $964,753.
The $2 exacta (11-8) paid $55.80, the $1 trifecta (11-8-10) returned $204.50, and the 10-cent superfecta (11-8-10-3) was worth $287.10.
The Spinster was the last of 10 FallStars Weekend stakes that opened the 17-day Keeneland fall meet over a three-day weekend. A final Win and You’re In event, the Grade 2 Jessamine for 2-year-old turf fillies, will be run here Wednesday following two dark days.
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