Naveed Chowhan's Seaneen Girl battled it out with Gal About Town in the stretch of Saturday's Grade 2, $167,550 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs before just getting up for a half-length score as the 31-1 longest shot in the nine-filly field.
Seaneen Girl settled to the outside of Silver Strike as Pow Wow Wow led the way through splits of :23 4/5 and :48 1/5. Cloudy Vow and Gal About Town trailed the leader before drawing even nearing the final turn. Gal About Town managed to stick her head in front through six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 but only held the advantage for a short time.
Jockey Miguel Mena guided Seaneen Girl up to the outside of that trio, and the Spring at Last miss was forced to go five wide through the turn. She quickly took after Gal About Town once hitting the lane and proved best after a nice stretch duel to finish 8 1/2 furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:44 4/5.
"I had a great trip," Mena stated. "The filly broke good and we saved ground on both turns. We stalked the favorite (Gal About Town) and I waited as long as I could. She was game."I worked this filly twice and she worked very good. I told several people, 'I've got the winner in this race.' I had a lot of confidence in her."
Seaneen Girl rewarded her faithful, but few, backers with payouts of $64, $21.60 and $9.20. Gal About Town was easily best of the rest as the near 5-2 favorite, five lengths clear of Liberated on the wire. Cloudy Vow finished out the top four while Broken Spell, Danalake, Street of Gold, Pow Wow Wow and Silver Strike completed the order under the line.
Seaneen Girl was making her first start for trainer Bernie Flint in this spot after spending the early part of the year in Robert Tiller's shedrow at Woodbine. At that Toronto venue she captured her debut by 5 3/4 lengths against maiden claiming rivals but has been winless since, including a second-place effort in the Grade 3 Mazarine on October 6 in her most recent start.
"I saw a couple of the Spring at Last's run that I really liked and I was looking for one. I saw this filly run in Canada and a guy called me and told me she was for sale," Flint explained how he got Seaneen Girl in his barn. "I had to go right away to Canada if I wanted her, so I jumped on a plane and went to Canada, checked her out and then came back home the same day. It was pretty hard to do for an old man. (Robert Tiller) did an excellent job of breaking this filly and bringing her around. He should get some credit.
"I had my hopes for her and I didn't realize her odds were 30-1," he added. "I thought she was second in a Grade 3 last time, but apparently she was under the radar. She sure came through like a good one."
Trying a conventional dirt track for the first time in the Golden Rod, the juvenile filly more than doubled her earnings to $170,197 and now shows a 6-2-1-1 career mark. She also earned 10 points on the new Road to the Kentucky Oaks series.
"(Robert Tiller) didn't have a chance to run her on the dirt. Where I come from, from Louisiana, they run on everything: dirt, grass, the works. So, I trained her like a dirt horse," Flint remarked. "I know one thing, if she stays the way she is, she'll be fine. She'll come on in the spring really good. We're going to go down to Louisiana and I'll probably get a whole van just for her."
Flint is no stranger to the Golden Rod winner's circle, having sent out the 2004 winner in Runway Model.
"She's very much like her," the horseman compared his two winners. "She's laid back and she's not a big, imposing filly, but she's extremely sound and when she trains, whatever you want her to do she'll do. If you want her to breeze, she'll breeze. If you want her to gallop, she'll gallop. She's just a nice horse all around. "
Bred in Kentucky by John Trumbulovic, Seaneen Girl was purchased by Tiller for $5,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall yearling. The chestnut miss is the first stakes scorer out of the winning Afternoon Deelites mare Afternoon Krystal. That one is a half-sister to multiple Grade 3-placed stakes victor Red Raymond, and this is the same female line as Grade 1 diva May Day Eighty, Group 1 star Silvernesian and Grade 1-placed dual stakes vixen Native Plunder.