Belle of Perintown, with Mark Guidry aboard, was trapped behind horses at the top of the stretch before rallying to a three-quarter length victory over Star of Atticus in Saturday's $111,100 Pocahontas Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Ken Mahler and Jamie Schloss, the win was the second consecutive for the daughter of Dehere. She covered the mile in 1:36.52 to return $18.00, $8.40 and $4.60. Star of Atticus, ridden by Lonnie Meche, held a half-length advantage at the top of the stretch but could not hold on and paid $8.40 and $4.80. Souris, ridden by Corey Lanerie and favored in the field of eight, stalked the early pace and contested the lead in the stretch before finishing another neck back to return $2.80.
Belle of Perintown, coming off a maiden victory at Keeneland on October 6, collected $68,882 to increase her career earnings to $117,487. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, who collected his first-ever Churchill stakes win, Belle of Perintown improved her lifetime record to 2-2-1 in six starts. Her lone off the board finish a 10th came at Churchill in her second career start last July when she bore in and hit the rail.
Youcan'ttakeme rushed to the early advantage as Star of Atticus gave chase with Belle of Perintown settling into fourth for the run down the backstretch. As the field entered the turn, Star of Atticus assumed command with Guidry positioning Belle of Perintown along the rail to make a stretch charge. The rail apparently closed as Belle of Perintown began to move, forcing Guidry to swing his mount four-wide to take chase from the outside and wear down Star of Atticus in the final strides.
Kenneally admitted he was concerned.
"I could see he had a lot of horse and she was really starting to run for him at that point, but it turned out that he had no place to go for a moment and he had to check her and she lost her momentum briefly," he said. "Honestly, at the sixteenth pole I didn't think we were going to get there, but she's a very game and gutsy filly and she really gutted it out. Guidry rode her perfectly."
The victory was Kenneally's first in a stakes race at Churchill.
"It means a lot to me to win a stake here at Churchill because I've been stabled here since 1994, when I first started training nine years ago," he said. "It's been great. We've won a lot of nice allowance races, but this is my first stakes win at Churchill Downs -- although I have won stakes in the past in Maryland and Chicago. But this is our first win here at Churchill, so it's huge."
"Eddie did a good job with her because she's really a nervous filly," said Guidry. "She gets real anxious and today she was on tilt, but he calms her down just enough to get the best out of her."