Ashbrook Farm’s Southern Honey tracked pacesetter Socialbug throughout and inched clear inside the final sixteenth of a mile to beat that rival by 1 ½ lengths in Monday’s 11th running of the $110,000 Winning Colors (Grade III) on Memorial Day at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Rusty Arnold, the 3-year-old Southern Honey defeated eight older rivals in her stakes debut to record her third win in a row. She ran six furlongs over a fast main track in a swift 1:08.67 – the third-fasting clocking in the Winning Colors, which honors the filly that prevailed against colts in the 1988 Kentucky Derby.
Socialbug, who broke from post four, went straight to the front and set fractions of :21.57, :44.40 and :56.43 with Southern Honey rating a couple of lengths back in the clear from the outside. Leparoux nudged at Southern Honey to improve position on the final turn and then asked for her best run with a quarter of a mile left to go. The bay filly drew close to the leader with three-sixteenths of a mile remaining and put away the runner-up in the final 100 yards.
The victory was worth $66,067 and improved Southern Honey’s earnings to $150,017 for owner Glenn Bromagen’s Ashbrook Farm of Richmond, Ky. She boasts a career record of 5-3-1-0.
As the only 3-year-old filly in the field, Southern Honey beat five stakes winners for her third straight win. Previously, she broke her maiden at Keeneland by 5 ¾ lengths and returned to beat winners by five at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day.
Southern Honey is a daughter of Colonel John out of the Carson City mare Mama Tia bred in Kentucky by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm LLC.
Southern Honey, who carried 116 pounds (four less than her rivals), returned $10.20, $6.80 and $6.20 as the 4-1 third betting choice. Socialbug, ridden by Miguel Mena, paid $8.60 and $6.60. Warm Breeze, with Leandro Goncalves aboard, was another 3 ¼ lengths back of the runner-up in third and returned $10.60.
Cozze Up Lady, 9-5 favorite Apropos, Aireofdistinction, Jamaican Smoke, Sweet Cassiopeia and Anahauc completed the order of finish.
For Leparoux, it was his second triumph in the Winning Colors. He rode Graeme Six to victory for trainer Tom Amoss in 2008.
Racing at Churchill Downs resumes Friday with a 10-race program that begins at 2:45 p.m. (all times Eastern).
WINNING COLORS QUOTES
RUSTY ARNOLD, trainer of Southern Honey (winner) – “It went great. When we drew the nine-hole I was thrilled because I knew how much speed was in here, and it gave us a chance to ease her off the speed if she would do it and she had a perfect trip. It was just what we were looking for.”
Q: Next start? “My goal is the Test (a Grade I, $500,000 race for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on Aug. 2 at Saratoga). That’s really why I didn’t ship her. I was going to have to ship her all the way to New York and then have to come back. But the Victory Ride (a Grade III, $150,000 race for 3-year-old fillies over 6 ½ furlongs on June 29 at Belmont Park) is probably what I’m looking at next.”
Q: About facing older rivals … “I was questioned on that move, but she came out of her race so well on Oaks Day and her breeze was just fabulous, so I thought instead of shipping her we’re going to try take on the old fillies, and it worked.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey of Southern Honey (winner) – “It went well. She broke a little bit outside, but obviously it didn’t bother her too much. The main part was to see if she could relax off the speed horses and she did today. She’s a nice filly, I mean a 3-year-old against older horses? That was a tough race for her and an ambitious race to run, but I was confident because of how well she’s been doing. She’s been very easy to ride the last few times, obviously it was a little different company today, but I knew I had a lot left in the gas tank from the two races before. I was very happy to see her prove herself today.”
JIM BARNES, assistant to BOB BAFFERT, trainer of Socialbug (runner-up) – “I couldn’t be happier with the way she ran. That was a tough spot. It wasn’t an easy race. Miguel (Mena) rode her well and did exactly what I told him to do. That’s the way that filly wants to run – she wants to run ‘em off their feet and it almost worked.”
MIGUEL MENA, jockey on Socialbug (runner-up) – “We had a pretty nice trip. I had instructions to go to the front and set the pace, and don’t worry about taking ahold of her. The filly was pretty happy on the lead. She was going fast, but she just got outrun. We got hooked by a really nice filly at the end.”
AL STALL JR., trainer of Apropos (fifth as the favorite) – “There was nothing I could see. She just appeared to be dull for whatever reason. She didn’t break sharp and was kind of never in the race. That’s the opposite of how she was training. She was just never there, for whatever reason. That’s not like her.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey on Apropos (fifth as the favorite) – “I was following the winner the whole way. She kicked on and my horse just stayed in the same place. She never accelerated for me.”
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