(July 6, 2008) – James Barry’s Genuine Devotion took the lead out of the gate under Alan Garcia and then held off a late bid from Pin Oak Stable’s Brownie Points by a half-length to win the 27th running of the $171,750 Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) for fillies and mares at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs on Sunday afternoon.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Genuine Devotion not only won her first graded event, but scored for the first time at a distance of more than six furlongs. It was her third consecutive stakes victory.
A 4-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Rock of Gibralter, Genuine Devotion covered the mile on firm turf in 1:35.76 in defeating nine foes. The victory was the fifth in eight starts for Genuine Devotion and worth $101,161 and raised her career earnings to $275,725.
Carrying 115 pounds, Genuine Devotion set fractions of :23.84 for the first quarter-mile and :47.52 for the half-mile with second-choice Bayou’s Lassie in closest attendance. Genuine Devotion maintained a head advantage over Bayou’s Lassie after three-quarters in 1:11.38 and then kicked to a daylight advantage at midstretch.
Brownie Points, carrying 120 pounds and ridden by Luis Quinonez, closed strongly but ran out of ground in the race that was run at a mile for the first time.
Genuine Devotion returned $6.60, $4.40 and $3. Brownie Points, who finished 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Bayou’s Lassie, returned $4.60 and $3 with Bayou’s Lassie paying $2.80 to show.
Robby Albarado won his first riding title at Churchill Downs, finishing the 52-day meet that opened April 26 with 73 victories. Tom Amoss won his first outright trainer’s title with 35 victories and Ken and Sarah Ramsey won their 13th overall leading owners title with 20 victories.
LOCUST GROVE HANDICAP JOCKEY & TRAINER QUOTES
ALAN GARCIA, jockey for Genuine Devotion (winner)
“This is my first race ever at Churchill Downs. I had never run here. My filly was very comfortable today and I had a lot of horse. At the quarter pole, I asked her and she was running and she began to pick it up and I looked back and nobody was coming and she got the job done. The trainer (Kiaran McLaughlin) did an outstanding job with the filly and had a lot of confidence in her to bring her to Kentucky. I am so happy my filly got the job done.”
Garcia is 22 from Peru and attended the riding school in that country.
“I went to the same school as Jorge Chavez and (Rafael) Bejarano. I got out of the school at the same time as Miguel Mena. I came in first and he came in second. Then I went to New York and he went to New Orleans before coming here and I think he does an excellent job. He is a good, young rider.”
KIARAN McLAUGHLIN, trainer of Genuine Devotion (winner) via telephone
“She is a real nice filly and he’s a great owner. It was nice to win a graded stakes with her.”
Q: Why the time off after October 2007?
“We felt like she needed a little bit more time off. She didn’t really have anything really big wrong with her but it was a great decision because the racing wasn’t up to what we were hoping for. It was in the past so we just stopped on her and gave her some time off and she came back great. Her little brother (Mastercraftsman) is one of the best 2 year-olds in Ireland. He won a grade 2 about a week ago (the Group 2, $197,375 One 51 Railway Stakes at Curragh on June 29). So this was so important to her to win a graded stakes.”
Q: What about the distance?
“We were a little concerned about it but we thought she would get a mile okay. She is just a very talented filly and Alan did a great job of trying to slow her down as much as he could and save something for the finish. She ran very well, she likes firm turf, soft turf, she actually ran huge on the dirt her first start of her life.”
LUIS QUINONEZ, jockey on Brownie Points (runner-up)
“She ran a good race – it’s too bad we couldn’t get to the winner, but she was trying. She always tries.”
Q: You didn’t get much help with the pace up front…
“She was laying in right behind them and I thought maybe they’d stop and we’ll get it. It kind of took her a little while to get going, but I got her clear and then she accelerated and I thought she might go all the way home. But the other horse had a little bit in the tank and just held me off. But I felt like she ran a good race.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on Bayou’s Lassie (third)
“She ran well. She placed herself where I thought I’d be. I knew the one (Genuine Devotion) would be the speed, being inside of me. Dale (Romans) said to just try to get her comfortable and track along with that one and kick clear if we could. But they sprinted away turning for home. But she ran hard.”
DALE ROMANS, trainer of Bayou’s Lassie (third)
“She ran hard. I didn’t see anything that she could have done different. She probably just got outrun.
“I didn’t like the way the pace scenario set up in the race. I’d rather have been on the lead, but I didn’t think we could get in front of the filly that won. I kind of left it up to Robby (Albarado). But she finished up okay and she ran hard. It’s a good race to have on your resume with a placing.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey on Say You Will (fourth)
“My filly ran a weird race. She dropped the bit on the backstretch. She only kicked at the eighth pole, but it was too late. I expected her be much closer, just behind the lead. I don’t know what happened. She just kicked at the eighth pole, and once she kicked she ran good.”
RICK METTEE, assistant to Saeed bin Suroor, trainer of Say You Will (fourth)
“Julian said she just didn’t carry him along as good as she did (in the Doubledogdare at Keeneland). On the first turn she seemed to be on the bridle and he just wanted to tuck her in behind, then he said she acted like she just kind of dropped the bit a little bit and didn’t carry him near as well as she did. Then at the eighth pole she finally found her stride and galloped out good. He said it’s hard to say that she didn’t handle the ground, because she took off at the eighth pole.”