Runner-up when racing against colts in her last start, Garden District used that experience to her advantage in the $122,500 Debutante (gr. III) (VIDEO), as she put away Simplify after a brief duel and went on to win by a half-length June 28 at Churchill Downs.
A six-furlong sprint on the dirt, the Debutante was the first North American graded stakes event of the season for 2-year-old fillies. As such, it was the first blacktype victory for Garden District, a daughter of Dixie Unionwho was ridden by Robby Albarado.
With Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard, Rachel Alexandra rallied to get second by a head over Simplify. The final time was 1:11.07 on a fast track.
Owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, Garden District was 2 1/2 lengths back in her second-place Kentucky Stakes (gr. III) finish May 1 at Churchill. She broke her maiden by three lengths on first asking one month earlier on the Keeneland polytrack.
In the Debutante, Garden District was in stalking mode, sitting just off of pacesetter Cameron Crazies. The opening fractions were quick, :21.24 and :45.14. Runaway Heart and Simplify were in contention as well.
Racing close to the rail, Garden District took over coming out of the turn, but still had work to do to fend off Cameron Crazies and Simplify. By the top of the stretch it was Simplify who loomed the largest, but Garden District steadily inched away. Rachel Alexandra made things interesting in the final yards, but came up short.
“She’s a nice filly and we had a good lineup of fillies today,” Albarado said. “I actually made her do more than I wanted to being down on the inside for most of the way. We kind of had to hold our ground, but she settled. She’s a nice filly and it really came easy for her. Again, this was a nice bunch of fillies she beat. You’ll read about any one of these top five fillies real soon.”
Pletcher said: “She was one of the first 2-year-olds that we got in and she’s been doing everything right since day one. I thought her maiden race at Keeneland was impressive. She sort of came up on the inside of horses and got bumped around a little bit. I thought it was very professional for a first-time starter. And she held her own pretty good against the boys in the Kentucky. We were looking forward to running her back against fillies and we’ve been pointing her to this for a while, so it was nice to see her show up and run the way she’s capable of.
“We’ll go on to Saratoga and see if the Schuylerville comes up too soon. If it does, we’ll wait for the Adirondack. We’ll let her tell us.”
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Garden District is out of the Unbridled's Song mare Brisquette. She was bought at the Keeneland September 2007 yearling sale for $240,000.
The even-money favorite, Garden District paid $4.20, $3 and $2.20. The exacta (4-5) returned $36.40, with the trifecta (4-5-3) netting $132.80.
Corlett was fourth, followed by Renda, Cameron Crazies, Songtress, Yo Eleven, Runaway Heart and Super Poni.