Reminiscent of his ride aboard Mine That Bird in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel came up the rail on a sloppy surface at Churchill Downs to spring a 51-1 surprise in Saturday’s 43rd running of the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes (Listed) aboard Buff Bradley and Carl Hurst’s homebred Divine Queen.
Divine Queen – the longest shot in a field of nine 3-year-old fillies – ran seven furlongs in 1:25.04 to beat Go Google Yourself by a head. Pacesetter Jean Elizabeth, who clicked off quarter-mile fractions of :22.75, :46.46 and 1:11.88, was another half-length back in third.
The upset victory capped an emotional week for Hurst and Bradley. On Friday, the duo rejoiced as their 5-year-old homebred The Player, who critically injured his right front leg in the March 24 New Orleans Handicap (Grade II), was finally able to return to Bradley’s Frankfort, Ky. farm after spending nearly six months at Louisiana State University recovering from the severe injury.
“This one was for The Player,” said Bradley, who trains both horses. “It’s been such an emotional week for us and to be able to bring The Player home yesterday and win this afternoon means a lot.”
Divine Queen, a daughter of Divine Park out of the Williamstown mare Town Queen, returned a lofty $105.40, $33.60 and $11.40 to her backers. Go Google Yourself, with Brian Hernandez Jr. up, paid $7.80 and $5. Jean Elizabeth, ridden by James Graham, returned $4.80.
Everyonelovesjimmy, 5-2 favorite Figarella’s Queen, Miss Mimosa, Salt Bae, Devine Mischief and Shes Our Fastest completed the order of finish. Primo Extremo and Naples Legacy were scratched.
“I’m so happy for Carl and Buff,” Borel said. “This filly has been training so well and she put things all together in this race. The horse in front (Jean Elizabeth) was getting out a bit so it left the rail open and we got a great trip.”
The victory was worth $59,520 and more than doubled Divine Queen’s earnings to $116,068. She has won three of her seven starts but this was her first stakes win. In her prior start, she finished fourth in a second level allowance at Ellis Park on Aug. 11.
“(Divine Queen) stumbled pretty bad in her last start but she rebounded nicely and was training well for this race,” Bradley said. “Calvin gave a perfect ride.”
Calvin Borel, jockey of DIVINE QUEEN (winner): “I’m so happy for Carl and Buff. This filly has been training so well and she put things all together in this race. The horse in front (Jean Elizabeth) was getting out a bit so it left the rail open and we got a great trip.”
Buff Bradley, trainer of DIVINE QUEEN (winner): “This one was for The Player. It’s been such an emotional week for us and to be able to bring The Player home yesterday and win this afternoon means a lot. (Divine Queen) stumbled pretty bad in her last start but she rebounded nicely and was training well for this race. Calvin gave a perfect ride.”
Paul McGee, trainer of GO GOOGLE YOURSELF (runner-up): “She ran really well. We’re proud of her effort and I think she’ll move forward off of this.”
James Graham, jockey of JEAN ELIZABETH (third): “This filly is fast. She was doing everything on her own up the backstretch. I just grabbed a hold of her and she moved easily. I’m proud of her race. She tried hard the entire time.”