Three Chimneys Farm LLC and Fern Circle Stables’ Restless Rider overcame trouble on the turn to convincingly beat Shanghai Rain by a record 11 ¼ lengths and six other 2-year-old fillies in the 118th running of the $100,000 Debutante (Listed) on closing day of Churchill Downs’ 38-day Spring Meet.
Restless Rider, the even-money favorite, clocked six furlongs over a fast track in 1:10.62. The Spring Meet’s leading jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the winner for trainer Kenny McPeek, who also won last year’s Debutante with Sunny Skies.
Payntermaniac broke fastest of all from post 3 as Restless Rider chased in fourth from the inside. After running the first quarter mile in :21.41 something went amiss with Payntermaniac as they entered the turn, which forced Restless Rider to check sharply. Restless Rider recovered quickly, circled to the outside and passed Hay Dilly, who had a narrow lead over Shanghai Rain and O’Keeffe at the top of the stretch after a half mile in :45.65. From there, it was all Restless Rider, who drew off for the largest win margin in the storied race’s history to eclipse Sweet Little Lady’s 11-length mark in 1977.
“That was super impressive,” Hernandez said. “The filly on the inside of us (Payntermaniac) got into trouble and forced us to change our position. You don’t really see young horses like this recover as she did. She switched leads nicely in the stretch and was powerful. It really leaves you speechless.”
The victory was worth $60,760 which increased the 2-year-old filly’s earnings to $91,360 with a perfect record of two starts. Prior to her Debutante triumph, Restless Rider broke her maiden at Churchill Downs on June 8 by 2 ¾ lengths.
“You don’t see horses get completely stopped and come back to win by (11 ¼ lengths), let alone young horses,” said McPeek’s assistant trainer Greg Geier. “She is super impressive. We were confident with her training coming into the race and thought she’d run a big effort. In her first race she got into a lot of trouble behind the starting gate but we worked with her in the mornings to get her better at the gate. She was really professional today.”
Restless Rider paid $4.20, $2.60 and $2.10. Shanghai Rain, the 5-2 second choice ridden by Gabriel Saez, returned $3 and $2.20. Beach Getaway, with Joe Rocco Jr. up, was 2 ¼ lengths back of the runner-up and paid $4.20.
“Nobody was beating the winner today,” said Beach Getaway’s trainer Ben Colebrook. “That was probably the most impressive 2-year-old performance of the year, if not the last couple. That was freakish.”
Hay Dilly, My Wynter Rose, O’Keeffe and Miss Mission completed the order of finish. Payntermaniac was pulled up, vanned off and returned to the Receiving Barn after the race. War Ballad was scratched.
Restless Rider is a 2-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Silky Serenade. She was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC.
The Debutante, first staged in 1895 and one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races, was one the first of three stakes races on Saturday’s closing day card at Churchill Downs. The $75,000-added Kelly’s Landing and $100,000 Bashford Manor (Grade III) were to be run as Races 10-11 on the 12-race program.
Racing in Kentucky will shift to Ellis Park on Sunday. Action at Churchill Downs will return Sept. 14 for the sixth annual 11-date September Meeting, which will continue through Sept. 30.
BRIAN HERNANDEZ JR., jockey of RESTLESS RIDER (winner): “That was super impressive. The filly on the inside of us got into trouble and forced us to change our position. You don’t really see young horses like this recover as she did. She switched leads nicely in the stretch and was powerful. It really leaves you speechless.”
GREG GEIER, assistant trainer of RESTLESS RIDER (winner): “You don’t see horses get completely stopped and come back to win by (11 ¼ lengths), let alone young horses. She is super impressive. We were confident with her training coming into the race and thought she’d run a big effort. In her first race she got into a lot of trouble behind the starting gate but we worked with her in the mornings to get her better at the gate. She was really professional today.”
BRET CALHOUN, trainer of SHANGHAI RAIN (second): “It looks like a really, really nice filly (Restless Rider) won the race. She took all the worst of it and got stopped hard, and came back and won. It looks like my filly ran her race – take nothing away from her. The winner was just much the best.”
GABRIEL SAEZ, jockey on SHANGHAI RAIN (second): “My filly ran a tremendous race, but we were just beaten by one that was just much the best. Beside the issues around the turn she still came back and beat us. She did everything good. I’m just glad she finished up and she pulled up well. She galloped out like she might stretch out a little bit, so hopefully she’ll stay sound and we’ll go from there. It was a good second for us.”
BEN COLEBROOK, trainer of BEACH GETAWAY (third): “I thought she ran great. Obviously she didn’t get bothered as much as the winner, but she didn’t have the greatest of trips and to still get up for third and get the black type – we’re over the moon. Nobody was beating the winner today. That was probably the most impressive 2-year-old performance of the year, if not the last couple. That was freakish.”
JOE ROCCO JR., jockey on BEACH GETAWAY (third): “She broke good. I got decent position early. They went really fast and she settled off of them. When that horse (Payntermaniac went amiss) on the turn took Brian (Hernandez Jr. on Restless Rider) out and cost me some there also. But my horse got back into rhythm and made a run – I was surprised. Brian’s horse just kept getting further away from me, but my horse got it together and put in a gutsy effort to run third.”