Jerry Romans’ Sassy Image collected her fifth win in six starts at Churchill Downs when she narrowly defeated Beat the Blues by a head in the eighth running of the Grade III, $111,600 Winning Colors for fillies and mares ages three and up on Memorial Day.

Sassy Image ran six furlongs over a “fast” track in 1:08.59 and was one of three winners for The Downs’ leading rider Corey Lanerie on Monday. Lanerie took over the mount from regular rider Robby Albarado, who had a pair of stakes engagements at Lone Star Park in Texas.

“I was lucky to get the mount on her today with Robby being out of town. Things have just seemed to fall into place this meet,” said Lanerie, who, at the halfway mark of the 39-day Spring Meet, had 23 winners, one more than Shaun Bridgmohan.

Starlite Starbrite broke fastest of all and led the field of nine fillies and mares through the first quarter mile in :21.54 with Beat the Blues pressing the pacesetter and Sassy Image rating patiently in mid-pack. Beat the Blues took the lead at the half-mile marker in :44.65 as Sassy Image ranged into striking distance with a five-wide move on the turn for home. The two battled down the stretch and Sassy Image, from the outside, wore down Beat the Blues in the final yards for the win.

“At the quarter-pole I thought I was definitely going to win, but I wasn’t so sure at the sixteenth pole,” Lanerie said. “When we hit the wire I knew we won.”

Sassy Image, who sprang a 16-1 upset in the Grade I Humana Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day, returned mutuels of $3.80, $2.60 and $2.40 as the odds-on 4-5 favorite. Beat the Blues, ridden by Miguel Mena, paid $6.20 and $4.60. Fortune Play, with Freddie Lenclud up, was 4 ½ lengths back in third and returned $8.40.

Jocata, Starlite Starbrite, Wind Caper, Stephanie Got Even, Bell’s Shoes and My New Lady completed the order of finish. Indian Ink was scratched.

Dale Romans trains Sassy Image for his older brother, who purchased the 4-year-old daughter of Broken Vow for $42,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. She banked $66,426 for the win and improved her overall record to 13-6-2-1 with career earnings of $598,781.

"She loves this track and she ran good,” Romans said. “That was a little more work than I expected, but they ran so fast and there’s only so fast a horse can run.”

The Kentucky-bred filly has enjoyed tremendous success beneath the Twin Spires. At 2, she broke her maiden by 5 ¾ lengths and later won the Pocahontas (GIII) by two and the Golden Rod (GII) by 3 3/4. She faltered in two starts at Gulfstream Park this winter but it was discovered that she had an entrapped epiglottis and underwent surgery to correct the problem. Her three-length triumph in the Humana Distaff on May 7 was her first victory since taking the Sweet Chant at Gulfstream Park early in her 3-year-old season.

“We’ll look at a couple of different spots for her now,” Romans said. “We may go to Saratoga for the 

Ballerina (a Grade I, $250,000 seven-furlong sprint on Aug. 27). We’ll probably run her in one more sprint and  then give her a route race before the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4). We’re going to try and make her a champion and to get that she’ll probably have to win the (Ladies’ Classic).”

The Winning Colors is named in honor of the 1988 Kentucky Derby winner, who is the most recent of three fillies to win the famed “Run for the Roses” at Churchill Downs. Past winners of the Winning Colors are Lady Tak (2004), Molto Vita (2005), Ever Elusive (2006), Miss Macy Sue (2007), Graeme Six (2008) and Dubai Majesty (2009-10). The latter won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.Churchill Downs will be dark Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Racing will resume Friday with an 11-race twilight program that begins at 2:45 p.m. ET. There will be a two-day Pick 6 carryover of $9,553 on Races 6-11, and a Super Hi-5 carryover of $5,689 in the finale.


                       WINNING COLORS QUOTES

Corey Lanerie, jockey of Sassy Image, winner: “I was lucky to get the mount on her today with Robby (Albarado) being out of town. Things have just seemed to fall into place this meet. I actually broke her maiden, but I lost the mount when she went to New York. She ran good for me today. At the quarter-pole I thought I was definitely going to win, but I wasn’t so sure at the sixteenth pole. When we hit the wire I knew we won.”

Dale Romans, trainer of Sassy Image, winner: “She loves this track and she ran good. That was a little more work than I expected, but they ran so fast and there’s only so fast a horse can run. We’ll look at a couple of different spots for her now. We may go to Saratoga for the Ballerina (a Grade I, $250,000 seven-furlong sprint on Aug. 27). We’ll probably run her in one more sprint and then give her a route race before the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4). We’re going to try and make her a champion and to get that she’ll probably have to win the (Ladies’ Classic).”

Jerry Romans, owner of Sassy Image, winner: “I didn’t think she was going to get up, but she somehow did! She ran a great race and Bret’s filly ran an amazing race too. She (Sassy Image) is a once in a lifetime horse.”

Bret Calhoun, trainer of Beat the Blues (runner-up)

“You know, it’s tough.  It’s disappointing to get beat like that after you run such a huge race.  I’m happy with the way she ran, but very disappointed to get beat like that on the wire in a Grade III.  We were expecting a big race out of her, I really was.  I know Sassy Image is a great filly and a Grade I winner and I didn’t expect to beat her.  But I thought she had a big shot in there today and she ran up to expectations.  I’m just disappointed to get beat right there on the wire.”

Q: You won this race last year with Dubai Majesty and returned in the fall to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.  Could she be that type of filly?

“This filly, from the time we bought her, has just gotten better and better and I think she proved that today.  You never know where they’re going to go, but I thought today was a big step forward in that direction.  Oh sure, you’d always love to end up there.  I don’t know if she’ll end up there or not, but she took on what’s right now one of the best one-turn sprint fillies there is, and one that’s really got an affinity for this track.”

Miguel Mena, jockey on Beat the Blues (runner-up)

“I had a perfect trip.  She broke good and settled off the speed in a perfect spot.  Turning for home we made a run and just got outrun at the end. But my filly ran really hard.  We’ve got a pretty good filly with a big future.”

FREDDIE LENCLUD, jockey on FORTUNE PLAY (third)

“She ran well.  We wanted to kind of rate off the pace.  It was six furlongs, but there wasn’t a lot of speed in the race, so we wanted to lay third or fourth.  She made a nice run down the lane.  She tried hard.”

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