Pure Clan rolled to her third stakes win at Churchill Downs with a 2 3/4-length victory over C J’s Leelee in Saturday’s $217,000 Regret Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
Pure Clan, who returned to turf racing after a third place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), covered 1 1/8 miles over the Matt Winn Turf Course rated “good” in 1:49.86.
Julien Leparoux rode the winner for trainer Bob Holthus and owners IEAH Stable and Pegasus Holding Group Stables. Leparoux also won the 2006 Regret with French-bred Lady of Venice.
Pure Clan, the even-money choice in the field of five 3-year-old fillies, was positioned close behind early leaders C J’s Leelee and Zee Zee. After a quarter mile in :24.51, the half in :49.48 and six furlongs in 1:14.04, Leparoux angled Pure Clan three-wide into the final turn. She wore down the leaders and grabbed command from C J’s Leelee with a sixteenth of a mile to go.
Pure Clan paid $4, $2.60 and $2.10. C J’s Leelee, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $3.60 and $2.20. Zee Zee finished another 1-½ length back in third under Kent Desormeaux and paid $2.20.
Magical Theater and Miss Mafioso completed the order of finish. Absolutely Cindy and Clearly Foxy were scratched.
The $134,540 winner’s share of the purse increased Pure Clan’s earnings to $552,416. It was the Kentucky-bred filly’s fifth win in eight starts.
Pure Clan, a 3-year-old Pure Prize filly, won her first four races at age two: a pair of turf events followed by back-to-back Churchill stakes triumphs in the Pocahontas (GIII) and Golden Rod (GII).
Saturday’s victory was Pure Clan’s first in four starts this year. In addition to her third place finish in the Oaks, she was second in the Honeybee (GIII) and third in the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park.
STAKES QUOTES: THE REGRET STAKES
JULIEN LEPAROUX (jockey, Pure Clan) – “We had the ideal scenario with the two horses to beat setting the pace.”
(Did you have any problems during the race, such as when Miss Mafioso had you trapped on the hedge leaving the backstretch?)
“It was a little tight, but that was his job. But when you are inside and have the good horse and the gas to go, you can do whatever you want. I had a lot more horse than him.”
ROBERT HOLTHUS (trainer, Pure Clan) – “I think I know where we will be spending the Fourth of July (at Hollywood Park in the mile and a quarter American Oaks Invitational on grass on July 5) if we get an invitation. She has trained well on the grass since the Kentucky Oaks (a third-place finish on the main track on May 2) and her last work was just awesome. We felt all along that her action was better suited for the grass than the dirt.”
KEN McPEEK (trainer, C J’s Leelee) – “She ran a great race. Robby did a great job. We’ve been beat two lengths to her twice – once on the dirt (in the Golden Rod) and now on the turf. They’re classy fillies. We just hooked a tough one in Pure Clan.”
ROBBY ALBARADO (jockey, C J’s Leelee) – “She ran a great race – she just got outrun. The filly that beat us is real nice.”
(It looked like the winner might get boxed in behind you, but once Pure Clan got free she rolled on by...)
“Those good ones find a way out of there.”
BILL MOTT (trainer, Zee Zee) – “The winner ran well. We were playing cat-and-mouse (with C J’s Leelee) down the backstretch, but the winner was just too much.”
(On paper, it looked like you might try to lay second behind C J’s Leelee...)
“That’s what we were trying to do, but (Albarado) wouldn’t go on with the other one. I wish we would have gone on. I think Albarado was trying to give someone else the lead, I kind of wish he (Desormeaux) had gone ahead and taken it.”