Catesby W. Clay’s Bizzy Caroline kicked clear late to beat Excited by 2 ¼ lengths in Saturday’s 42nd running of the Grade III, $138,135 Regret Presented by Etihad Airways at Churchill Downs.
The victory was the second stakes win of the day for her red-hot trainer Ken McPeek, who has won the last five Churchill Downs graded stakes races that he’s entered: the June 4 Dogwood (GIII) with Salty Strike; June 4 Aristides (GIII) with Noble’s Promise; June 11 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) with My Baby Baby; Saturday’s Matt Winn (GIII) with Scotus; and the Regret.
The McPeek-trained Kathmanblu, the 8-5 favorite in the field of eight 3-year-old fillies, was the more heralded stablemate in the Regret, but Bizzy Caroline proved to be best. She clocked 1 1/8 miles over a Matt Winn Turf Course rated “yielding” in 1:49.73. Kathmanblu wound up fourth.
Bouquet Booth and Excited set the pace through fractions of :24.61, :49.19 and 1:12.87. Bizzy Caroline, who raced in midpack from the inside for most of the way, shifted out entering the stretch, reeled in the leaders and kicked clear late under jockey Manny Cruz.
Bizzy Caroline paid $10.20, $4.50 and $4.40. Excited, ridden by Javier Castellano, returned $4.80 and $4. Bouquet Booth finished another half-length back in third under Shaun Bridgmohan and paid $6. Kathmanblu, Blushandbashful, Diva Ash, Holidaysatthefarm and Gaya completed the order of finish.
Bizzy Caroline, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Afleet Alex, notched her third win from six starts and the $83,070 first prize jumped her earnings to $148,497.
Ken McPeek, trainer of Bizzy Caroline (winner): “She ran a great race. I think she (Bizzy Caroline) is a filly that just needed to mature. When she was younger, she looked like a horse that was headed in the right direction, but would need some time. The Clays are a great family and had no problem with us taking our time to develop her.”
What’s next for Bizzy Caroline?: “I haven’t thought past today. Tomorrow we will put a schedule together for her.”
On five stakes wins in a row: “It’s very exciting to win five stakes in a row. I can’t remember ever being on a streak like this, but I don’t think about it too much. We just try and take it one race at a time. This game is very humbling and as soon as you think you have the ‘bull by the horns,’ it will take you out.”
On favorite Kathmanblu’s performance: “I think she (Kathmanblu) is probably due a rest. She’s been running hard since January and it might be time to just give her a little R&R and go from there.”
Manny Cruz, jockey of Bizzy Caroline (winner): “I rode her with a lot of confidence and let her tell me where she wanted to be in the race. Kenny (McPeek) has a lot of faith in me and didn’t give me any instructions. He just said to go do my job. I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to ride this horse. She is a nice filly.”
On three stakes wins at meet: “I said when I won the first one (aboard Salty Strike) that there would be many more stakes wins to come. I hope there are still many more to come.”