For the second straight year, a 2-year-old Texas-bred gray filly from the barn of trainer Bret Calhoun invaded Churchill Downs to raid the Debutante.
Last year, it was Fiftyshadesofgold, who’d go on to win this year’s $200,725 Eight Belles (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day. On Saturday, it was Promise Me Silver’s turn to shine as she put away 7-5 favorite Unbridled Reward down the stretch to win the 114th running of the $108,300 race by two lengths.
Owned and bred by Robert Luttrell, Promise Me Silver ran six furlongs over a fast track in 1:11.49 to give jockey Robby Albarado his fourth winner in the race for aspiring juvenile fillies.
Unbridled Reward broke fastest of all in the field of six and was pressed by Chicago-invader Irish Nuggets through early fractions of :22.22 and :45.93. Promise Me Silver tracked the leaders from the outside in third, moved into contention and drew even midway through the turn and spurted clear of Unbridled Reward with three-sixteenths of a mile to run en route to the convincing win.
“When I called on her to go after (Unbridled Reward) she did it very quickly,” Albarado said. “She’s a very talented and very smart filly.”
It was another 11 ¼ lengths back to third place finisher Rousanne.
Promise Me Silver, the 2-1 second betting choice, paid $6.20, $3.20 and $2.60. Unbridled Reward, ridden by Alan Garcia, returned $3 and $2.60. Rousanne, with Shaun Bridgmohan up, paid $4.20.
Irish Nuggets, Rachel’s Ready and Ol Sanish completed the order of finish.
Each of the entrants made one career start prior to the Debutante. Promise Me Silver, a Silver City filly out of the Macho Uno mare Uno Mas Promesa, debuted May 11 against state-breds at Lone Star Park with a 6 ¾-length romp as her rider sat motionless down the stretch. It wasn’t as easy Saturday as Albarado, deputizing for the injured Rosie Napravnik, urged her home with left-handed taps from his riding crop.
“I know coming out of Lone Star sometimes they don’t give them quite as much credit but all those guys have their 2-year-olds ready early on,” Calhoun said. “She broke from the one-hole in her first start and manhandled the group. Then she came up here and trained forwardly and I knew she had a lot of talent.”
The triumph was worth $66,475 and improved Promise Me Silver’s bankroll to $78,355 in two starts. Calhoun suggested that her next race could be a stakes event at Saratoga. The $150,000 Schuylerville (Grade III) at six furlongs will be run on the Spa’s opening day on Friday, July 18.
The Debutante, first staged in 1895 and one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races, was one of two stakes races Saturday at Churchill Downs.
One race later in the $65,194 Roxelana, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 6-5 favorite Speedinthruthecity rolled to a 4 ¾-length score over Anahauc in a field of six fillies and mares. The 4-year-old City Zip filly ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Steve Asmussen ran six furlongs in 1:10.04. It was her sixth win in 14 starts and second stakes victory. The $39,600 winner’s share of the purse pushed Speedinthruthecity’s earnings to $335,957.
Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a nine-race program that begins at 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern).
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey of PROMISE ME SILVER (winner) – “I had a great trip. She kind of got squeezed a little bit by the four (Unbridled Reward) coming out of the chute there, but she was fine. I got her to sit back and get to the outside and she was very content right there. She galloped along there nicely. When I called on her to go after Casse’s filly she did it very quickly. She’s a very talented and very smart filly. Bret (Calhoun) should be excited about her the rest of the year. I’m just glad I got to ride her.”
BRET CALHOUN, trainer of PROMISE ME SILVER (winner) – “She pretty much ran like we expected. I didn’t know if we’d win but she had a huge shot. She came up here and trained very well. I know coming out of Lone Star sometimes they don’t give them quite as much credit but all those guys have their 2-year-olds ready early on. She broke from the one-hole in her first start and manhandled the group. Then she came up here and trained forwardly and I knew she had a lot of talent.”
Compared to Fiftyshadesofgold (2013 Debutante winner for Calhoun): “Talent-wise at this point in time I think they’re similar. This filly’s physique is much different. Fiftyshadesofgold is a much larger filly, but talent-wise their very close right now.”
On next start: “There’s a chance we may take her up to Saratoga. We’re going to see how she cools out and see how she looks in the next couple of weeks.”
NORMAN CASSE, assistant to MARK CASSE, trainer of UNBRIDLED REWARD (runner-up) – “I don’t think anybody’s disappointed. The Oxleys are very happy. They went fast early and they separated themselves from the rest of the field. That’s all we could hope for. I think we have a special filly and I’m excited about things down the line. I think those two fillies kind of separated themselves from the rest of the division here and she can move forward from here.”
ALAN GARCIA, jockey on UNBRIDLED REWARD (runner-up) – “She broke good and everything. She just got outrun and that’s it. She was second-best.”
Q: Was she uncomfortable when the winner came up to her outside. It looked like you tried to get her out when Promise Me Silver went by … “She likes to be outside a little bit, but it doesn’t matter. She got beat.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey of SPEEDINTHRUTHECITY (winner) – “I was just loaded, just waiting to get clear to come out. She won very easily, she’s very impressive. I got into a little traffic there but just bided my time well. I knew I was behind the five (Warm Breeze) and nine (Anahauc), those were the ones to beat and so she was able to get clear and obviously won easily.”
DARREN FLEMING, assistant to Steve Asmussen, trainer of SPEEDINTHRUTHECITY (winner) – “I thought she ran really well. I was a little afraid once they got to the quarter pole, but I knew that if Julien (Leparoux) could get a little seam, that’s all we needed to explode.”