G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s homebred Centre Court collected her third graded stakes win of the year with a convincing two-length triumph over Leading Astray in Saturday’s 22nd running of the Grade II, $202,175 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs.
Centre Court, ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Rusty Arnold, ran 1 1/16 miles over “firm” turf in 1:42.54. “That was fun,” Humphrey said. “She comes with her race every time.”
English Class was quickest from the gate and led the field of 12 three-year-old fillies through fractions of :24.39, :48.57 and 1:13.15 with Centre Court tracking in second while in the clear down the backstretch. The eventual winner drew even with the leader around the final turn and kicked home powerfully under slight urging from Leparoux.
“I rode her like she was the (3-2) favorite,” said Leparoux, who also rode Acoma (2008) and Marketing Mix (2011) to Mrs. Revere victories. “She kicked on very nice at the end and won pretty easy. When I asked her, she kicked away and I knew that if someone could beat me at that point it would have been a very good filly.”
Centre Court paid $5, $3.20 and $2.60. Leading Astray, sent to post at 8-1 under Eddie Perez, returned $6 and $4.80. Colonial Flag, with Joe Rocco Jr. up at 10-1, was another three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up and paid $6. Solid Appeal, Miz Ida, English Class, Somali Lemonade, Peace Preserver, Regalo Mia, Volcat, Lateegra and Charged Cotton completed the order of finish.
Centre Court, who won the Lake George (Grade II) and Regret (GIII) this summer, banked another $116,545, which pushed her career earnings to $476,012. It was her fourth win from nine starts, and the Kentucky-bred daughter of Smart Strike, out of the A.P. Indy mare Let, remained perfect in three outings over Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf Course. She won the first race of her career on May 19 beneath the Twin Spires.
“She’s been there all year,” Arnold said. “She’s had eight starts on the turf and has never been worse than second. I haven’t had one much more consistent. She just hasn’t run a bad race on the grass. Sometimes you’ll have a bad trip or you’ll get in trouble, but she’s just been there all year for us.
“She’s going to Palm Meadows (in south Florida), but she won’t run ’til April. We’ll point her to the Jenny Wiley (at Keeneland).”
The Mrs. Revere, which honors the four-time Churchill Downs stakes-winning mare owned by Dr. Hiram Polk and Dr. David Richardson and trained by Bill Mott, was one of two graded stakes events on Churchill Downs’ special “Downs After Dark” program – the only nighttime racing event during it’s 21-day Fall Meet. Earlier on the card, Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider’s homebred Lea prevailed in the ninth running of the Grade III, $117,100 Commonwealth Turf.
Also on the night, a 70-year-old track record fell. The rarely-contested distance of 1 3/16 miles on dirt was clocked in 1:58.12 by Ron Winchell’s 3-year-old Tritap, who carried 118 pounds. Shaun Bridgmohan rode the winner for trainer Steve Asmussen. The previous track standard was 1:58.60 by 5-year-old gelding Bonnie Andrew, while toting 110 pounds, on Nov. 14, 1942.
Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a 10-race program that begins at 12:40 p.m. ET. Only six days remain at the 21-day Fall Meet. Closing Day is Sunday, Nov. 25.
MRS. REVERE QUOTES
G. Watts Humphrey Jr., owner of Centre Court, winner: “That was fun. She comes with her race every time. One of the first mares that I bought with my mother (Louise Ireland Humphrey) when she decided she wanted to get involved was the dam (Let). My mom was in New York working with the (Metropolitan) Opera and said she wanted to get back into racing. We went out and bought three yearlings and one of them was the dam of Centre Court.”
Rusty Arnold, trainer of Centre Court, winner: “She’s been there all year. Dayatthespa, you have to give her the credit, she’s been the best probably. We took a big shot at her at Keeneland, but couldn’t get by her. We beat Stephanie’s Kitten, twice, so I put mine right below the top one. She’s had eight starts on the turf and has never been worse than second. I haven’t had one much more consistent. She just hasn’t run a bad race on the grass. Sometimes you’ll have a bad trip or you’ll get in trouble, but she’s just been there all year for us.”
Q. What’s next? “She’s going to Palm Meadows, but she won’t run till April. We’ll point her to the Jenny Wiley (at Keeneland).”
Julien Leparoux, rider on Centre Court, winner: “I rode her like she was the (3-2) favorite. She ran a big race at Keeneland with a slow pace and kicked on very nice at the end. Today, she did the same thing. She kicked on very nice at the end and won pretty easy. When I asked her, she kicked away and I knew that if someone could beat me at that point it would have been a very good filly.”
Eddie Perez, rider on Leading Astray, runner-up: “I had a good trip and my horse tried pretty hard. No excuses. She was just second best. I can’t complain.”
Joe Rocco Jr., rider on Colonial Flag, third: “He (trainer Michael Matz) wanted to be a little closer than last time, which we were able to do. I was tucked in, saved ground and more or less followed the winner the whole way. I just tried to stay right behind her. When (Centre Court) quickened, I asked my mare and she picked it up. She dug in hard and I thought she was going to get second.”
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