Spelling Again went straight to the front and turned back a late challenge by Heykittykittykitty in deep stretch to Saturday’s seventh running of the $100,000 Open Mind by one length – the first of four stakes races on the day at Churchill Downs.
The victory by the 4-year-old filly gave 35-year-old trainer Brad Cox, a graduate of nearby Iroquois High School, his 100th career victory at Churchill Downs and first local stakes triumph.
Sea Jay Racing’s Spelling Again, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, stopped the teletimer in 1:09.96 for six furlongs over a fast track to beat five other fillies and mares. Claimed for $40,000 in May and transferred to Cox, it was her first career stakes victory and second win in a row.
Sent to post as the 2-1 second betting choice, Spelling Again broke quick from the gate and opened a clear early lead through fractions of :22.42 and :45.99. Heykittykittykitty, the 9-5 favorite, collared the leader at the head of the stretch from the outside but Spelling Again wasn’t done yet. She fought back with a determined from the inside to prevail by a length.
Spelling Again paid $6.40, $3.60 and $2.80. Heykittykittykitty, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., returned $3.20 and $2.20. Anusara, with Francisco Torres in the saddle, finished another 1 ¾ lengths back in third and paid $3.40.
Elusive Fate, Bird Maker and Brown Eyed Mary completed the order of finish.
Spelling Again, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Awesome Again out of the Alphabet Soup mare Spelling, earned $61,380 for the win. Overall, she has won four of 13 starts with a trio of seconds and a pair of thirds. Her career earnings now stand at $167,406.
Prior to the Open Mind, Spelling Again won a swift second-level allowance/optional claiming event at Indiana Downs where she won one-mile race in 1:36.53 by 1 ¾ lengths over heavily-favored House of Sole.
Saturday’s race saluted the late Eugene Klein’s Hall of Fame filly Open Mind, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained winner of the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs who returned to the Louisville track the following spring to win the Kentucky Oaks. The New Jersey-bred filly was an Eclipse Award champion at ages two and three. A winner of 12 races and $1,844,372 in 19 starts, the daughter of Deputy Minister was enshrined in Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2011.
OPEN MIND QUOTES
BRAD COX, trainer of SPELLING AGAIN (winner): “We didn’t see a whole lot of speed in the race from just looking at the form, when you’re cutting back from route races to sprints you can get the lead. I felt comfortable. Shaun [Bridgmohan] had a good hold of her and I honestly thought that she was beat at the eighth pole, but I do know that this filly will run, she’s tough as nails. She is real, real talented.”
Q: How did you get this filly?“She was claimed in California and the guys that owned her said that they’d like to bring her back east. She’s a Pennsylvania-bred and we’re going to look at some things in Pennsylvania. Obviously this summer, you can’t really run a Pennsylvania-bred at Ellis. We looked at Indiana and then we’ll eventually navigate to Parx or Presque Isle or something with stakes so I can get black type. She got good and we have her here, so we looked at the Locust Grove and this race and we thought this race was going to set up well. She’s a nice little filly.”
On 100th win at Churchill Downs: “It was my biggest win. We won a couple of allowance races that were good here. I think the 2-year-old [Twirling Cinnamon] will run big in the stakes here and we’ve got three in the stakes at Louisiana Downs so hopefully this is the beginning of a big day.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey of SPELLING AGAIN (winner): “I was just trying to see where everybody else was and I tried to make a premature move and saw that the favorite [Heykittykittykitty] was on my outside so I knew where she was so that’s why I opted to go when I did coming off of the turn.”
RON MOQUETT, trainer of Heykittykittykitty (second as the 9-5 favorite): “She ran her race. She just got beat today. She brings her race pretty consistently. I thought that she was sitting in a pretty good spot and when she was in the clear I thought she would go on. But every now and then she’ll wait on another horse, and it looked like she pulled up a touch. She waited a little bit. But I’m still proud of her. She’s a good girl.”