Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Garden District, benefiting from a rail-skimming ride from Robby Albarado, scored a half-length victory over Rachel Alexandra to win the 108th running of the $112,500 Grade III Debutante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.
Cameron Crazies, ridden by Miguel Mena, set the pace in the six-furlong test, cutting out the first quarter-mile in :21.24 and the half-mile in :45.14. Turning for home, Cameron Crazies left room at the rail for Albarado to slip through on Garden District, who had been tracking in second place through the first half-mile.
Garden District clung to a slim lead in the stretch and held off late bids by Simplify and Rachel Alexandra, who got up in the final strides to snatch second place by a head from Simplify.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Garden District covered the six furlongs in 1:11.07 over a fast track in winning for the second time in three starts. In her previous start, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Dixie Union out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Brisquette had run second against males in the Grade III Kentucky Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 1.
Garden District earned the winner’s check of $66,263 and improved her career bankroll to $130,882. The victory gave Albarado his 50th stakes victory at Churchill Downs, second all time to retired Hall of Famer Pat Day, who had 155 stakes wins.
Sent off as the favorite in the field of 10, Garden District returned $4.20, $3 and $2.20. Rachel Alexandra, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., returned $5.60 and $4.40 and Simplify, ridden by Corey Lanerie, returned $2.80 to show.
DEBUTANTE JOCKEY AND TRAINER QUOTES
Todd Pletcher (via telephone), trainer of Garden District, winner: “She was one of the first 2-year-olds that we got in and she’s been doing everything right since day one. I thought her maiden race at Keeneland was impressive. She sort of came up on the inside of horses and got bumped around a little bit. I thought it was very professional for a first-time starter. And she held her own pretty good against the boys in the Kentucky. We were looking forward to running her back against fillies and we’ve been pointing her to this for a while, so it was nice to see her show up and run the way she’s capable of.”
Q: You waited two months to run her after the Kentucky – was there any temptation to run her somewhere else?
“There were limited options. We would have had to have run her against the colts at Woodbine, or something like that. It’s just the way that the calendar works out when you have a filly that gets ready real early. There are not a whole lot of options, so we were able to freshen her up a bit for this.”
Q: It’s on to Saratoga with her?
“We’ll go on to Saratoga and see if the Schuylerville comes up too soon. If it does, we’ll wait for the Adirondack. We’ll let her tell us.”
Q: How good can this filly be? Is she one that can go on?
“The first thing Johnny (jockey John Velazquez) said when he got off her after the Churchill race before was that this filly was going to get better when she goes longer. We’re kind of thinking that and it’s good to know that she handled the synthetic track (at Keeneland), so that opens up a lot of options for us down the road.”
Robby Albarado, Garden District, winner: “She’s a nice filly and we had a good lineup of fillies today. I actually made her do more than I wanted to being down on the inside for most of the way. We kind of had to hold our ground, but she settled. She’s a nice filly and it really came easy for her. Again, this was a nice bunch of fillies she beat. You’ll read about any one of these top five fillies real soon.”
Hal Wiggins, trainer of Rachel Alexandra, second: “She’s going like it better when she goes longer. Her momma (Lotta Kim) won stakes going long, and of course (sire) Medaglia d’Oro won going long. She ran a nice race. I was real worried about her coming back in 15 days, but she ran good and I think she’s going to be okay. I think she’s going to be an okay filly.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., Rachel Alexandra, second: “She ran hard. She didn’t break as sharp as I would have liked; I like to see her a little closer. But she gathered herself up and put herself in great position. She made a strong run down the lane. For coming back in 15 days, she ran a very impressive race, I thought. Mr. Hal (Wiggins) and the whole crew did a great a job getting her ready for this race.”
Corey Lanerie, Simplify, third: “I had a good trip, but didn’t break as good as I would have liked. I was in a good spot. I eased her out turning for home and we were heads up for the lead, but we just couldn’t get by.”
Darren Miller, trainer of Corlett, fourth:
Q: Did she hit the rail at the first-turn gap after the start?
“She might have grazed it. Jamie (jockey Jamie Theriot) did a great of hanging on. It was bad luck, but we’re really pleased with her. She’s a nice filly. When they overcome that and keep soming and keep running, you’ve got to like them. I think she’s legitimate. We’ll see what we want to do with her – there are plenty of places to go.”
Calvin Borel, Songtress, seventh: “I had a good trip, no excuses really. She got outrun more than anything.”
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