Last after the first half-mile, jockey Brice Blanc guided Aud through traffic to register a neck victory over 51-1 May Gator in the $173,550 Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares on the Churchill Downs turf Saturday.
With 38-1 Angela's Love a head back in third and 15-1 Noisette finishing fourth, the $1 superfecta returned a Churchill record $100,092.50.
Aud covered 1 1/8 miles on yielding turf in 1:53.94.
Classic Stamp, the 8-5 favorite, finished fifth with Pat Day aboard when lacking a response in the stretch run.
"She didn't like that soft ground at all," said Day. "When I tried to get her to kick on, she just bogged down and went to spinning her wheels and didn't finish up near what we had anticipated or what I think she's capable of. She just never really got comfortable."
Aud settled on the inside while trailing the 11-horse field out of the gate, easing out slightly while approaching the stretch run. She maneuvered back to the inside before emerging as a contender while four wide in the final furlong. The 4-year-old daughter of Wild Again
was hard ridden to victory.
"She made a nice move coming out of the turn because I had so much to do, I had to kind of give her a chance to get to the winner's circle and I had to use her a little bit," said Blanc. "She sure is brave, coming so far out of that kind of race and the divots were coming back. It was very nasty out there and she still showed how much heart she's got."
The stakes win was the seventh at Churchill Downs for Blanc, a 31-year-old native of Lyon, France. Six of those seven stakes victories have come this year and all but one of those victories came over the track's Matt Winn Turf Course.
May Gator, ridden by Jose R. Martinez, Jr., stalked the pacesetting Angela's Love while racing wide most of the way. She loomed outside of the winner but was outrun to the wire.
Angela's Love, Tammy Lee Fox in the irons, led into the stretch on fractions of : 24 3/5, :49 2/5, 1:11 4/5 and 1:40. She was two lengths clear at the eighth pole but could not hang on.
Peter Willmott's Willmott Stables, Inc., homebred, trained by Anthony Reinstedler, picked up her first graded stakes win since the 2003 Pucker Up (gr. IIIT) on a yielding track at Arlington 14 months ago. Her only victory since then came via disqualification in Lone Star's Yellow Rose Breeders' Cup stakes last month. She was coming off a nose beat to Humaita in the Dowager at Keeneland Oct. 24.
"I thought she struggled with the ground a little bit today," said Reinstedler. "I think it made her drop a lot further out of it than I think anybody anticipated. But I think she showed her courage and her incredible heart by not giving up."
Aud is now 6-5-0 in 20 lifetime starts. Saturday's winning purse of $107,601 pushed her career earnings to $485,623.
She paid $9, $4.20 and $3.60 as the second choice. May Gator ($36 and $19) completed a $287.60 exacta. Angela's Love ($16.40) was part of a $6,939.20 trifecta.
Finery, Beret, Shaconage, On the Bus, Chance Dance and Nannycam completed the order.