Beat the Blues, twice a bridesmaid in the Winning Colors (Grade III) at Churchill Downs, broke through with a determined gate-to-wire victory over 4-5 favorite Judy the Beauty on Memorial Day.
Beat the Blues, a runner-up to Sassy Image in 2011 and Island Bound a year ago, ran six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:08.59 to win the $108,000 race by three-quarters of length. The time equaled the second-fastest clocking in 11 runnings of the Winning Colors, which honors the filly that prevailed against colts in the 1988 Kentucky Derby.
Miguel Mena rode the winner for trainer Bret Calhoun and owners Bill Martin’s Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Morgan Thoroughbred, LLC. The victory was the third Winning Colors triumph for Martin, Morgan and Calhoun, who also won the 2009-10 renewals with Dubai Majesty.
Beat the Blues broke from post No. 3 from the starting gate quickest of all in the field of five fillies and mares and set quarter-mile fractions of :21.42 and :44.17. She drifted out a bit through the stretch while clocking five-eighths of a mile in :55.92, but repelled a late charge by Judy the Beauty, who made a five-wide move on the turn to loom large in the stretch.
“My filly was traveling so nice,” Mena said. “Even though the fractions were fast, she looked like she was enjoying doing it. She was comfortable. She picked it up at the eighth-pole and was game. I never hit her. She ran great and was ready for this race. She deserved this win.”
Beat the Blues, sent off as the 9-2 third choice, paid $11.20, $4 and $3.20. Judy the Beauty, ridden by international champion jockey Joao Moreira, returned $2.60 and $2.20. Vuitton was another 4 ¼ lengths back in third under Alan Garcia and paid $3.40. Burban and Funnys Approval completed the order of finish. Blueeyesintherein and Holiday Soiree, who opted to run third in the $61,800 Red Cross at Monmouth Park, were scratched.
Beat the Blues, a 6-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Great Pyramid-IRE out of the Pentelicus mare Imtheblues, won for the 10th time in 24 career starts. A winner of the 2011 Saylorville at Prairie Meadows and the 2012 Carousel at Oaklawn Park, this was the first graded stakes triumph of Beat the Blues’ career. She banked $66,960 to improve her career earnings to $520,634.
Racing at Churchill Downs resumes Friday with a 10-race program that begins at 2:45 p.m. (all times Eastern). No one hit Monday’s Pick 6 for the seventh consecutive day, which means there’s a $68,357 carryover for Friday on Races 5-10. The sequence to link six winners in a row begins at 4:50 p.m.
WINNING COLORS QUOTES
Bret Calhoun, trainer of Beat the Blues, winner: “She’s been a bridesmaid in so many big races and she was deserving of this. She’s run a lot of good races against some good horses and has just been unfortunate to not get there in a graded stake. Today was her day, thank God.”
Were you nervous about the quick opening fractions (:21.42 and :44.17)? “Well I was and I wasn’t. The track is very quick. I gave Miguel (Mena) no instructions except to get her away good because she hasn’t been a very good gate horse the last year. I left it open for him to make a quick decision and he made a quick decision when (Funnys Approval) didn’t show up.”
Any idea where she’ll run next? “I really don’t. We had this race circled for so long."
Miguel Mena, jockey on Beat the Blues, winner: “Bret (Calhoun) gave me no instructions except to break good. I know the filly because I’ve been riding her for so long. I broke great and there wasn’t a lot of speed. My filly was traveling so nice. Even though the fractions were fast, she looked like she was enjoying doing it. She was comfortable. She picked it up at the eighth-pole and was game. I never hit her. She ran great and was ready for this race. She deserved this win.”
Wesley Ward, owner-trainer of Judy the Beauty, second: “She was turned out at Ashview Farm there in Lexington all winter long, so when she shipped in the first of February she looked like a woolly mammoth. So for her to come back and run as creditable as she did at Keeneland and then to come here – we train on the Polytrack, so it’s a little bit of an advantage for the horses over here. But she still ran very, very well and we’ve got a big summer and a couple of Grade Is in front of her, but I was very happy with how she ran. I sure would have liked to win, but I’m very happy.”
Joao Moreira, jockey on Judy the Beauty, second: “It was a good weekend. It would be great if I had won this race, but I must be happy with the way that she ran. She’s a very honest filly. She goes out there and she always performs well. She stumbled a little bit when she came out because she really jumps quick, but in just one or two strides she was already at full speed and got herself in a good spot. I was pretty happy where I was in the race – not too far off the leaders. The pace was quite genuine, but unfortunately the horse needed the race and she got a little tired and I wasn’t able to run by. But I’m very happy with how she ran.”
How about your experience at Churchill Downs and getting your first North American win on Sunday? “It was a very good experience here and the same kind of experience in Chicago (at Arlington Park) two days ago. I won yesterday (Sunday) and was second today, so I must be pretty happy for that. Obviously, the United States is a great place and I’ve always dreamed to get here someday, and I think that’s just coming through to me. If there is really an opportunity for me (to ride in the U.S.), I will definitely grab it.”
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 140th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2014 and its 2013 Spring Meet is scheduled continues through Sunday, June 30. 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.