Megans Bluff remained unbeaten on the Churchill Downs turf course, drawing away to win Saturday's $113,600 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) by 2 1/4 lengths over Sitka. The win marks her third in three attempts on the Churchill grass, with all three wins coming under different jockeys.
Under Craig Perret, Megans Bluff tracked early leader and betting favorite Trip through moderate fractions then held a fast-closing Sitka safely at bay to earn the winner's purse of $70,432. Megans Bluff completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.88 on a turf course listed as "good."
"I rode her like she was the best horse in the race," said Perret. "I wasn't going to let Trip get out there by herself. I wanted Trip to prove that she was better than this filly. She shot out and left them from the eighth pole home. She did all the running and all I had to do was hold on, and that was half the battle."
Good Game finished third, followed by Badouizm, Seven Sevens, Lady of Peace, Trip, Elegant Ridge, Teach, and Charm.
Megans Bluff paid $8, $5, and $3.60. Longshot Sitka returned $17 and $8 and completed the $146 exacta. Good Game was worth $4.80 to show.
The win is the seventh in 19 starts for Megans Bluff (Pine Bluff -- Cozzena, by Cozzene), a 4-year-old filly owned by James C. Routsong and bred in Kentucky by Kevin G. Pipes. On turf, Megans Bluff improved to three wins in seven starts. After earning her maiden win at Keeneland last April, Pine Bluff earned an allowance win on the main track at Churchill before winning her turf debut in a Churchill allowance under Pat Day. She was then switched back to the main track, on which she won the Arlington Oaks (gr. III) and Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. III), defeating older fillies and mares in the latter race. The John Hennig trainee then finished second in the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks on a good track before returning to turf racing at Churchill Downs, where she won the Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) under Mark Guidry. She has been held winless since, though she did win the My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the track before being disqualified and placed second.
"She's a free running horse and there was only one other speed horse in the race, and that was Trip," said Hennig. "We talked about it in the paddock, but what Craig didn't tell me was that he was going to chase Trip down on the lead. She's three for three on this turf course so her next race will be the Locust Grove at Churchill on June 23. As for her career next year, we'll just let her be the judge of that. She's doing great right now so we'll let her tell us about that." (Chart, Equibase