Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma outlasted You Go West Girl by a head to win the 36th running of the $111,700 Cardinal Handicap (Grade III) for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.

    Ridden for the first time by Jesus Castanon, Acoma surged past Lemon Chiffon just inside the eighth pole and then repulsed the bid from You Go West Girl to remain perfect at Churchill Downs.

    A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Empire Maker, Acoma has won all five of her starts beneath the Twin Spires with three of the victories coming over the turf in graded stakes and two on the main track.
    Zaskar (GB) and Leamington led the field through fractions of :24.11, :48.55 and 1:13.42 over a “firm” Matt Winn Turf Course. Castanon had Acoma racing in mid pack in the run down the backstretch.

    On the far turn, Lemon Chiffon rocketed past the leaders with Acoma following a length behind. Meanwhile, You Go West Girl began to move on the inside and quickly joined Acoma at the front, but could not go by.

Trained by David Carroll, Acoma covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.02. The victory was worth $66,484 and increased Acoma’s earnings to $665,999 with an overall record of 14-8-1-2.

    Acoma rewarded her backers with payoffs of $9.40, $5 and $3.40. You Go West Girl, ridden by Jose Lezcano, returned $5.40 and $3.80 in finishing 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Lemon Chiffon, who paid $3.20 to show under Jon Court in the field of nine.

    In the $58,400 Bet On Sunshine, an overnight stakes for sprinters, favored Custom for Carlos romped to a 3 ¾-length victory over Accredit.

 Ridden by Jose Lezcano for trainer Eddie Kenneally, Custom for Carlos covered the six furlongs in 1:09.71 over a fast track and returned mutuels of $3.40, $2.60 and $2.40. Accredit, ridden by Miguel Mena, paid $4.80 and $3.60 with Golden Country finishing another half-length back in third under Freddie Lenclud and paying $5.80 to show.

 Custom for Carlos, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of More Than Ready, is owned by Homewrecker Racing and Avalon Farms. The $37,040 winner’s check increased Custom for Carlos’ earnings to $290,630 for his fourth victory in 10 starts.

Racing continues Sunday as the 21-day Fall Meet enters its final week with a 10-race program beginning at 12:40 p.m. ET. There’s a four-day Pick 6 carryover of $21,378.88 on Races 5-10 and a $9,848.08 Super Hi-5 carryover for the finale.


JESUS CASTANON, jockey of ACOMA, winner: “She is really just a nice filly. I want to thank the owners (Helen C. Alexander and Helen K. Groves) and the trainer (David Carroll) for putting me up on this one and giving me a shot today. I had a heck of a good trip around today. I waited as long as I could before I made a move toward home. When I finally moved for home, she really had a great turn of foot. When we went around the turn for the first time she was in the bridle, but when we were on the backside she really began to settle in nicely and relax. She really just seems to love it here.”

DAVID CARROLL, trainer of ACOMA, winner: “Home sweet home. She loves it here, obviously (5-for-5). She’d been training beautifully. Normally I’d go into this race with tremendous confidence but she came off a poor race and I was little bit more subdued. When she walked into the paddock today . . . she’s just a beautiful filly. When I saw her warm up she was on her toes. I just told Jesus (Castanon) to ride her with confidence because she’s let you know when she’s there. Down the backside he had a lot of horse. We were a bit wide and I was afraid that we didn’t get enough out of that last race condition-wise. Tom (Proctor)’s filly (You Go West Girl) ran huge, who was a very fit and in form filly.”
    Q: What’s next? “That’s it for this year. We’ll shut her down and get ready for next year. We needed to see that race from her and why not? The Breeders’ Cup is here next year.”
    Q: Is this relief or excitement? “It’s more relief. You take pride in knowing your horses. All the signs were that she was going to run big. But that also was the way she went into Keeneland and she never showed up at Keeneland for whatever reason. Maybe it was the soft turf? Regardless, she was never at the races. When she walked into the paddock how could you not have confidence? She was the pick of the paddock. I’m so proud to have her and she looked fantastic. She popped out of the gate and got good position but was a little wide down the backside. But he had a lot of horse and that’s all I really wanted. I wanted her to indicate that she wanted to run. She was very wide but she was game. She got nothing out of her last race. We had to run. I felt great win or lose. She was back. The win was the cherry on top. I can’t say enough about Miss Helen (Alexander) and her mother. They are unbelievable people to train for. This is a filly with a great pedigree and we look forward to a big year next year.”

TOM PROCTOR, trainer of YOU GO WEST GIRL (runner-up): “She got in a little trouble turning for home.  She runs hard all the time and, actually, I thought the winner won a little easier than it looked. I think she had me measured.”
Q: But you’re pretty happy with her effort? “Yeah, I’d liked to have seen her have a little better trip.”
Q: Will she come back next year? “Oh, yeah.”

JOSE LEZCANO, rider on YOU GO WEST GIRL (runner-up): “At the eighth pole, she was running between horses and she ran hard, but she just couldn’t hold off the winner.  She ran hard and fought in the run to wire.”

JON COURT, rider on LEMON CHIFFON (third): “She ran good – I just couldn’t believe they went by her that way down the stretch.  I had a bridle-full of horse turning for home and she kicked away from the field.  They were dogging me the whole way and then the one (You Go West Girl) and the three (Acoma) kicked away.  She had plenty of kick down the lane – she just couldn’t out-kick the three and the one.  They kicked-on by themselves.”

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