Susan Moulton’s Sandstone dictated the pace, turned back a challenge from 3-5 favorite Yuugiri at the top of the stretch and drew away inside the final furlong to comfortably win Sunday’s ninth running of the $197,500 Rags to Riches for 2-year-old fillies by a stakes-record 10 ¾ lengths on Sunday at Churchill Downs – opening day of the 132nd Fall Meet and co-feature on the 17th Stars of Tomorrow I program for 2-year-olds.
Ridden by Brian Hernandez – one of four winners on the day – and trained by Kenny McPeek, Sandstone ran 1 1/16 miles in a stakes record 1:44.18 while making her two-turn debut. (Note: there have only been two 1 1/16 miles runnings of the Rags to Riches). Previously she broke her maiden by nine lengths while running one mile over a sloppy main track at Churchill Downs in her second career start on Oct. 3. Her debut on May 28 at 5 ½ furlongs resulted in a fifth-place finish.
Sandstone led the compact field, which was reduced to four following the scratch of Dressed, through early fractions of :24.51, :48.55 and 1:13.11 with Yuugiri no more than a length off her right hip. Manasota Sunset was a couple lengths back in third and Mama Rina raced far back. Yuugiri, a 7 ¼-length debut winner at Churchill Downs on Sept. 17, drew even with Sandstone leaving the far turn but the winner responded to that challenge at the three-sixteenths pole and displayed an impressive turn of foot along the rail with overwhelming authority under mild urging from Hernandez.
“I saw going into the race that my filly could go to the lead if she needed to,” Hernandez said. “When I saw no one making an early move I was confident she’d run a good effort from there.”
Sandstone, the 5-2 second betting choice, paid $7.40, $3 and $2.10. Yuugiri, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, returned $2.20 and $2.10. Mama Rina was another 15 ¼ lengths back in third under Corey Lanerie and paid $2.10 with Manasota Sunset and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. another 5 ¾ lengths behind in fourth.
Sunday’s payday was worth $127,500 and Sandstone improved her record to 3-2-0-0—$199,960.
“Sometimes we don’t always have the most stellar summers but come around in the fall,” McPeek said. “This is a big filly and really impressive. She’s big but she has a lot of speed. She’s fast and very well built. That was a really nice effort.”
By 2011 Preakness (GI) and 2012 Clark winner Shackleford, Sandstone is out of the 22-year-old unraced Seattle Slew mare Seattle Shimmer. The dark bay or brown filly was bred in Kentucky by Mark Stansell and Cindy Stansell.
Sunday’s race is named in honor of Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s 2007 Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner. Four years ago, Michael Dubb and Monomoy Stables’ Monomoy Girl cruised to a 6 ½-length score in the Rags to Riches prior to her triumph in the 2018 Kentucky Oaks.
The Rags to Riches serves as the local prep race to the $400,000 Golden Rod (GII) on Saturday, Nov. 27 which will award top four points on a scale of 10-4-2-1 for the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
RAGS TO RICHES QUOTES
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey of SANDSTONE (winner): “I saw going into the race that my filly could go to the lead if she needed to. When I saw no one making an early move I was confident she’d run a good effort from there.”
Kenny McPeek, trainer of SANDSTONE (winner): “Sometimes we don’t always have the most stellar summers but come around in the fall. This is a big filly and really impressive. She’s big but she has a lot of speed. She’s fast and very well built. That was a really nice effort.”