Carl Moore Management LLC’s swift female sprinter Finley’sluckycharm broke alertly from the starting gate and never looked back to easily record her first graded stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Winning Colors (Grade III) at Churchill Downs. She defeated her stablemate Mayla by 5 ½ lengths – the largest margin of victory in 14 runnings of the race.
“She’s an awesome filly,” Moore said.
Finley’sluckycharm sprinted six furlongs over a fast main track in 1:09.07 en route to defeating six other fillies and mares. Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the winner for trainer Bret Calhoun, who won the race for a record-extending fourth time. His previous success in the race came with champion female sprinter Dubai Majesty (2009-10) and Beat the Blues (2013), and Calhoun now boasts an impressive Winning Colors record of 11-4-3-1 since 2009.
Breaking from post six as the odds-on 1-5 favorite, Finley’sluckycharm broke fastest of all and led the field through the first quarter mile by 1 ½ lengths in :22.13. She spurted clear approaching the far turn to widen her lead to 4 ½ lengths after a half mile in :45.17 and comfortably held the field at bay down the stretch for the runaway win in hand under Hernandez.
“She does everything so well and has such good natural speed that I just have to stay out of her way,” Hernandez Jr. said. “On the backstretch one of the other riders smooched at their horse to go and my horse heard it and started opening up.”
The victory was worth $60,760 and improved Finley’sluckycharm’s earnings to $344,468 with a record of 7-1-0 in nine starts.
This was her first graded stakes win and third stakes victory overall. Following a narrow half-length loss to Constellation in the Grade I La Brea at Santa Anita in late December, Finley’sluckycharm made her first start of the year on April 29 at Churchill Downs and recorded a three-quarter length win over Athena in the $65,340 Roxelana Overnight Stakes. Prior to the La Brea, she won the $82,400 Dream Supreme Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs in late November by a jaw-dropping 8 ½ lengths while clocking six furlongs in 1:08.58 – a stakes record for the 12-year-old race.
“She’s just so talented,” Hernandez Jr. said. “I don’t know how we got beat in the La Brea in December.”
Finley’sluckycharm, who is now a perfect 5-for-5 at Churchill Downs, returned $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10. Mayla, also owned by Moore and trained by Calhoun, paid $8.60 and $6 at odds of 18-1 under Ricardo Santana Jr. Sweetgrass, ridden by James Graham, was another three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up and returned $3.60.
Covey Trace, Athena, Game Time Decision and Ramona’s Wildcat completed the order of finish. Pleasant Tales was scratched.
“That’s exactly how you’re supposed to do it, right?,” Calhoun said. “I’m very proud of both of my horse’s efforts today. This was a great spot for Finley’sluckycharm to stay home and hopefully finish off the meet with the (Grade III, $100,000) Chicago Handicap (at Churchill Downs on June 24). This gives us the opportunity to save her best for some of the Grade Is down the road.”
Finley’sluckycharm is a dark bay or brown daughter of Twirling Candy out of the Victory Gallop mare Day of Victory. She was bred in Kentucky by Lakland Farm.
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, 5-year-old mare Daring Duchess worked her way to the front in the fifth running of the $65,559 Keertana Overnight Stakes, dictated the pace and kept on gamely to give owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker their second straight win in the 1 ½-mile turf marathon for fillies and mares. The productive team won last year’s renewal with Al’s Gal. Daring Duchess, ridden by Julien Leparoux, stopped the teletimer in 2:29.59 over firm going en route to a three-length win over Quiet Business. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Arch won for the fourth time in 17 starts. She paid $4 to win as the even-money favorite in the field of six, and banked $40,222 to push her career earnings to $207,282. Runner-up to Quiet Business in the $150,000 Bewitch (Grade III) at Keeneland in her last start on April 28, Daring Duchess got redemption and collected her first stakes win.
Racing at Churchill Downs resumes Sunday with a 10-race card that begins at 12:45 p.m.
WINNING COLORS QUOTES
BRIAN HERNANDEZ JR., jockey of FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM (winner): “She’s just so talented. I don’t know how we got beat in the La Brea (Grade I) in December. She does everything so well and has such good natural speed that I just have to stay out of her way. On the backstretch one of the other riders smooched at their horse to go and my horse heard it and started opening up.”
BRET CALHOUN, trainer of FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM (winner) and MAYLA (runner-up): “That’s exactly how you’re supposed to do it, right? I’m very proud of both of my horse’s efforts today. This was a great spot for Finley’sluckycharm to stay home and hopefully finish off the meet with the Chicago Handicap (GIII). This gives us the opportunity to save her best for some of the Grade Is down the road.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey of DARING DUCHESS (winner): “Once I saw they were going slow up front, I wanted to get my filly closer to the lead. She relaxed again on the backstretch and opened up strongly when I asked her to go.”
MIKE MAKER, trainer of DARING DUCHESS (winner): “She’s a big filly – 17 hands – by Kitten’s Joy. So, she wants to run all day long. We’re very proud of her.”