Illiquidity moved into contention while wide on the second turn and swept to the lead in the stretch to win the $176,100 Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a half-length Saturday at Churchill Downs. Under Jon Court, Illiquidity completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.72 on firm turf. Betting favorite License Fee was second, and Miss of Wales third.
Defending Cardinal champion Pratella led thorugh an opening quarter-mile run in :23.70 before settling in just behind Gino's Spirits, who set fractions of :47.76 and 1:12.51. Gino's Spirits had a clear lead on the second turf before tiring. License Fee searched for running room in the stretch and closed gamely once clear, but Illiquidity held on to win by a half-length. License Fee finished second, a nose ahead of Miss of Wales. Lady Tamworth was fourth, followed by White Beauty, Pratella, Alexis, Seven Sevens, Final Tango, Histoire Sainte, Gino's Spirits, and Mumtaz.
"I was a little concerned that we had made the lead too early," said Court. "I knew there were some powerful closers in there and I knew they would be coming at us. The speed had backed up to us and she naturally inherited the lead. Taking the lead like we did was just the way it shaped up."
Illiquidity returned $20.20, $8.40 and $5.40. License Fee paid $3.40 and $3. Miss of Wales paid $6.60. The exacta paid $57.40.
The win was the fourth consecutive stakes win for Illiquidity, and her first career graded stakes win. Stonerside Stable's 4-year-old filly is trained by Patrick Byrne and was bred in Kentucky by Oak Cliff Thoroughbred Breeders LLC. Illiquidity (Sky Classic--Ms. Aerosmith, by Skywalker) earned $109,182 for the win, her eighth in 17 career starts and fifth in eight starts at the distance.
"Jon (Court) made a bit of a premature move because those others were getting to him in the stretch," said Byrne. "If she gets the lead too soon she begins to loaf." (Chart, Equibase