Vuitton took advantage of an early speed duel and rallied from last to run down Sweet Cassiopeia by one length to win Saturday’s fifth running of the $108,100 Open Mind at Churchill Downs.
Vuitton, owned by Gillian Campbell, Ralph and Shelly Stayer and Andrew Pajak, ran six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:10.07 to collect her second stakes triumph. In April, the 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike defeated graded stakes-winning mare Beat the Blues by a nose in the $100,000 Carousel at Oaklawn Park.
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. and trained by Steve Asmussen, Vuitton was last of six fillies and mares in the early stages of the sprint as 4-5 favorite Burban and 5-1 third betting choice Ms Anna Destiny battled for the early lead through fractions of :21.78 and :45.09.
With three-eighths of a mile to run, Bridgmohan dropped his hands and asked Vuitton for her closing kick. Sweet Cassiopeia put away the fading leaders and grabbed the lead at the head of the stretch, but could not hold off the fast-closing Vuitton, who rallied wide in the clear and took command inside the final sixteenth of a mile.
Vuitton, sent to post at odds of 7-1, returned $17.60, $7.80 and $5.40. Sweet Cassiopeia, ridden by Robby Albarado, paid $7.40 and $4.80. Ms Anna Destiny was another 1 ½ lengths back in third under Miguel Mena and returned $5.40.
Burban, Second Street City and Devious Intent completed the order of finish.
Vuitton, bred in Kentucky by Satish Sanan’s Padua Stables, earned $66,352 for the win. It was her first race in 110 days. Previously, she was third behind Beat the Blues and Judy the Beauty in the $108,000 Winning Colors (Grade III) on Memorial Day at Churchill Downs.
Overall, Vuitton has won six of her 15 starts with six seconds and a pair of thirds. Her career earnings now stand at $218,760.
Saturday’s race saluted the late Eugene Klein’s Hall of Fame filly Open Mind, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained winner of the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs who returned to the Louisville track the following spring to win the Kentucky Oaks. The New Jersey-bred filly was an Eclipse Award champion at ages two and three.
OPEN MIND QUOTES
RICARDO SANTANA JR., rider of VUITTON (winner): “I had ridden her three times and she had won all of them, and I want to thank my trainer (Steve Asmussen) for giving me a chance to ride her another time. I know the filly and she gives her best all the time. I take her back and she runs when we get out. She loved the track. She ran great.”
Q: At what point did you think you had it? “I thought I had them in the stretch, because I know this filly closes really nice. I saw the horse in the front (Sweet Cassiopeia) stopping a little, I felt like I had it.”
SCOTT BLASI, assistant trainer of VUITTON (winner): “When I saw them run that first quarter (in :21.78) I thought we had a good shot. There was plenty of pace up front and she likes being on the outside. Ricardo (Santana Jr.) has had a lot of success on her and was smart enough to get her on the outside. She did the rest after that.
EDDIE KENNEALLY, trainer of Burban (fourth as the 4-5 favorite): “It looked like things were going pretty good, but when he (Shaun Bridgmohan) pushed the button I don’t think there was anything there.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN , rider of Burban (fourth as the 4-5 favorite): “I thought I was sitting in a great spot, but she just didn’t give it to me. She’s a much better filly than this.”