LOUISVILLE, KY (Friday, May 5, 2023) – Ashbrook Farm and Upland Flats Racing’s Red Carpet Ready outdueled odds-on favorite Munnys Gold to prevail by a head in the 68th running of the $500,000 Eight Belles presented by Sysco (GII) for 3-year-old fillies.
Trained by Rusty Arnold and ridden by Luis Saez, Red Carpet Ready completed the seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:22.28. It is the second win in the race for Arnold, who won the race in 2003 with Final Round.
Munnys Gold, winner of her first three starts by a combined 38 lengths, shot to the lead out of the gate and led the field of seven through fractions of :22.67 and :45.11 as Red Carpet Ready raced in the clear in third.
On the far turn, Red Carpet Ready went after Munnys Gold and stuck her nose in front at the top of the stretch. In the lane, Red Carpet Ready appeared to have things under control with a clear advantage only to have Munnys Gold battle back to her inside, falling just short of the winner.
Now a winner of four of five career starts, Red Carpet Ready is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Oscar Performance out of the Street Sense mare Wild Silk.
The victory was worth $303,800 and increased her earnings to $588,670.Red Carpet Ready returned $13.44, $3.94 and $2.74. Munnys Gold, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., returned $2.46 and $2.10 and finished 1 ¾ lengths in front of Accede, who paid $3.22 to show under Flavien Prat.
It was another 2 lengths back to Condensation, who was followed in order by Olivia Twist, Sabra Tuff and Grand Love.
EIGHT BELLES QUOTES
Luis Saez, jockey, Red Carpet Ready, winner: “This filly had a good break, and she put us right in it. When she got the lead, I wanted her to open it up, but she was waiting a little bit. When she was alone, she waited for the other horse to come back. I was pretty worried about the other horse, because in the long stretch, she tried hard to catch us. Red Carpet Ready is a spectacular filly. She always tries really hard.”
Rusty Arnold II, trainer, Red Carpet Ready, winner: “She wants to sprint and she loves it here. We’re going to regroup and keep to sprinting. Louie (Luis Saez) rode her great. He took it to her (odds-on favorite Munnys Gold, on the lead) and she was ready.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., jockey, Munnys Gold, runner-up: “The winner jumped for me, and I tried to turn her back, but we came up short. The fractions were beautiful, beautiful. She tried to come back, and was very game, but just got beat. We’ll fight another day.”