Preston Madden’s homebred 4-year-old filly Miss Kentucky grabbed the lead on the far turn, put away 1-2 favorite Golden Mischief in deep stretch and turned back a late surge by Treble to win Saturday’s 15th running of the $100,000 Winning Colors (Grade III) at Churchill Downs by three-quarters of a length.
Miss Kentucky sprinted six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:10.35 en route to defeating five other fillies and mares. Churchill Downs’ leading jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the winner for trainer Rusty Arnold II.
The victory was worth $61,380 and improved Miss Kentucky’s earnings to $213,522 with a record of 5-1-0 in 12 starts. This was her first stakes win.
“I have to give a lot of credit to (assistant trainer) Jack (Bohannon),” said Arnold, who won his eighth race from 19 starters at the Churchill Downs Spring Meet. “He worked with her a lot and she’s really improved. Jack worked her here Monday (four furlongs in :48) and told me we should keep her home to run in this race instead of shipping out of town. I’m glad it worked out well.”
Longshot Brave Daisey opened up a clear advantage shortly after the break but gave it up midway around the turn after a quarter mile in :21.28 as Miss Kentucky and Golden Mischief raced in tandem to take command. The move wasn’t the smoothest for favored Golden Mischief as she briefly raced in tight quarters between horses with Miss Kentucky to her outside and the fading Brave Daisey on the rail.
While maintaining a half-length advantage over Golden Mischief, Miss Kentucky clocked a half-mile in :44.46 at the top the stretch as Treble commenced her late closing kick from the outside. Miss Kentucky gamely put away Golden Mischief with a furlong to run and never let Treble bridge the gap.
“I wasn’t too worried about the horse on the lead early on,” Hernandez said. “We just ran our type of race. I let her get in a good rhythm on the backstretch and I think she’s really starting to get good. Once I asked her at the top of the lane she really kicked away nicely.”
Miss Kentucky, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred bay daughter of Blame out of the Distorted Humor mare Champagne Taste, returned $9.20, $4.20 and $2.80 as the 7-2 second betting choice. Treble paid $4.60 and $3.40 under Ricardo Santana Jr. Golden Domer, ridden by Corey Lanerie, was another 1 ¾ lengths behind the runner-up and returned $5.
Pinch Hit, Golden Mischief and Brave Daisey completed the order of finish.
“It’s looked like they went a little quick early,” said trainer Brad Cox, who saddled Pinch Hit and Golden Mischief.
“I know the track’s fast, but that’s really not (Golden Mischief’s) thing. She doesn’t want to be that close to that hot of a pace, and being down on the inside probably wasn’t her thing either. She ran fifth in a sixth-horse field at 1-to-2, so obviously it’s disappointing. But hopefully she can regroup from it and we can pick a spot later in the summer and take another swing.”
The Winning Colors is named in honor of Eugene Klein’s Winning Colors, the most recent filly to have won the Kentucky Derby when she beat the boys in the 114th running of the Run for the Roses in 1988 for the Hall of Fame tandem of trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Gary Stevens.
Earlier on the 11-race program, Brereton C. Jones’ 4-year-old filly Creative Thinking drew even with leaders Daring Duchess and La Manta Gris with an eighth of a mile to run in the sixth running of the $70,083 Keertana Overnight Stakes before she bounded clear to easily win the 1 ½-mile turf marathon by five lengths. Daring Duchess, the defending champ and odds-on 2-5 favorite, was second and La Manta Gris was another three-quarters of a length back in third.
Creative Thinking stopped the teletimer in 2:31.13 over “firm” going under Adam Beschizza, who rode the winner for trainer Tom Proctor. This was the second Keertana win for Proctor, who won the 2015 renewal with Ceisteach (IRE). Proctor also trained the mare for whom the race is named. Barbara Hunter’s Keertana won four of nine starts at Churchill Downs, including a nose triumph over males in the 2011 Louisville Handicap (GIII).
Creative Thinking won for the third time in seven starts and collected her first stakes triumph. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Creative Cause paid $11.40 as the second betting choice in the field of seven fillies and mares, and banked $42,420 to push her career earnings to $119,620.
Racing at Churchill Downs resumes Sunday with a nine-race card that begins at 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern). No one had six winners in Saturday’s Single 6 Jackpot sequence on Saturday, which trigged a massive $636,166 Jackpot carryover for Sunday on Races 4-9 starting at 2:13 p.m.
WINNING COLORS QUOTES
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey of MISS KENTUCKY (winner): “I wasn’t too worried about the horse on the lead early on. We just ran our type of race. I let her get in a good rhythm on the backstretch and I think she’s really starting to get good. Once I asked her at the top of the lane she really kicked away nicely.”
Rusty Arnold II, trainer of MISS KENTUCKY (winner): “I have to give a lot of credit to (assistant trainer) Jack (Bohannon). He worked with her a lot and she’s really improved. Jack worked her here Monday and told me we should keep her home to run in this race instead of shipping out of town. I’m glad it worked out well.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., jockey of TREBLE (runner-up): “It was sort of the same scenario as it was in her last start. She just couldn’t get by this filly.”
Brad Cox, trainer of PINCH HIT (fourth) and favored GOLDEN MISCHIEF (fifth): “It’s looked like they went a little quick early. I know the track’s fast, but that’s really not her thing. She doesn’t want to be that close to that hot of a pace, and being down on the inside probably wasn’t her thing either. She ran fifth in a sixth-horse field at 1-to-2, so obviously it’s disappointing. But hopefully she can regroup from it and we can pick a spot later in the summer and take another swing.”
Adam Beschizza, jockey of CREATIVE THINKING (winner): “I have to give a lot of credit to Mr. Jones and Tom for having this filly ready to go. It seemed like I was the only one not in a hurry during the early stages of the race. I saw Corey (Lanerie) go to the lead (on Daring Duchess) and thought I was in a little trouble. I ended up being back a little too far but when he got pressured most of the race that helped soften things up.”
Tom Proctor, trainer of CREATIVE THINKING (winner): “It was the second time we’ve won this race and very proud of this filly.”
Brereton Jones, owner of CREATIVE THINKING (winner): “When you see a horse as well put together as her and a trainer who is as successful as Tom, it was a good feeling going into the race. I’m glad everything worked out. She fits this distance very well and continues to improve.”