Centre Court, the 3-2 favorite in the field of 11 3-year-old fillies, took the lead at the top of the Matt Winn Turf Course stretch and never surrendered her advantage, crossing the wire a length in front of Colonial Flag in the 43rd running of the $114,200 Regret (GIII) on Saturday night at Churchill Downs.
The Regret, which was named in honor of the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby in 1915, was the second of four graded stakes races run under the lights as part of Churchill Downs’ special “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” nighttime racing program.
Centre Court, bred and owned by G. Watts Humphrey and Louise Ireland Humphrey Revocable Trust 2008, broke well and then rated in third under Javier Castellano behind pacesetter Zapper Belle and Singn On Themoon through fractions of :23.75, :48.55 and 1:12.70. Castellano then began to move with Centre Court and the filly had earned a slight lead as the field turned for home. She was headed in the stretch by Colonial Flag, but turned away that rival and proved best.
"I had a great trip. It was the dream trip; the one I was looking for,” Castellano said. “I stalked behind the speed and it worked out great. She is a very nice filly and has been progressing every time. I like her and she's really honest. She put in a lot of effort today and responded very well. She gave me a good kick at the end."
Treasured Up was another half-length back in third and was followed in order by Left a Message, Silver Hustler, Dame Marie, Heart of Destiny, Funny Proposition, Zapper Belle, Coup and Singn On Themoon.
A dark bay or brown daughter of Smart Strike out of the A.P. Indy mare Let, who won the Churchill Downs Distaff (GII now known as the Chilukki) in 1999, Centre Court covered the 1 1/8 miles on the firm course in 1:48.25.
The Rusty Arnold-trained Centre Court improved her record to 2-2-0 in five career starts and her bankroll now stands at $119,467 with her winner’s check of $66,556.
“We will probably go to the American Oaks (GI at 1 ¼ miles on turf at Hollywood Park on July 14), but there are a lot of options,” Arnold said. “We’ll see how she comes back from this one.”
Centre Court returned $5, $3.40 and $3. Colonial Flag, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $4.80 and $3.80 with Treasured Up, under Rosie Napravnik, finishing third and returning $6.20 to show.
RUSTY ARNOLD, trainer of Centre Court, winner – “That was a very nice win and we are really happy with her. That was a good group. She made a good step up today. It's very big to get a graded stakes win with a filly. It's very good for the whole family (from a breeding standpoint).
“It's nice to see this filly win here. I trained her mom to win a graded stakes here. (Let) wasn't a Grade I winner, but she was very nice and won some big races for us"
Q: Where do you go from here? - We will probably go to the American Oaks, but there are a lot of options. There are some good races in New York and the Virginia Oaks also is a nice race. We'll see how she comes back from this one.”
JAVIER CASTELLANO, jockey on Centre Court, winner – “I had a great trip. It was the dream trip; the one I was looking for. I stalked behind the speed and it worked out great. She is a very nice filly and has been progressing every time. I like her and she's really honest. She put in a lot of effort today and responded very well. She gave me a good kick at the end."
MICHAEL MATZ, trainer of Colonial Flag, runner-up – “He (jockey Julien Leparoux) said she ran a little green when she came up alongside her (Centre Court). I think they’re both two really good fillies and I’m sure they’re going to meet again along the way. I think it was a good race.”
Q: Has it been a good week?
(Smiling broadly) “It’s been a great week, a great week!”
ROSIE NAPAVNIK, rider on Treasured Up, third – “She ran excellent. (Trainer) Al (Stall Jr.) told me she was a really nice filly to ride and he was right-on with that. She just placed herself and kicked on and she was very honest.”
Q: It looked like anyone’s race at the head of the stretch …
“We got a great trip and she ran awesome, so you couldn’t ask for any more.”
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4, 2013, and its 2012 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.
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