Two-year-old filly Runway Model captured her second grade II stakes of the season with a three-length victory in the $215,400 Golden Rod at cloudy Churchill Downs Saturday.
Racing close to the pace after an unhurried start, Eddie Martin Jr. edged the 11-10 favorite Runway Model up four wide to put her nose in front at the quarter pole. She battled pacesetter Summerly briefly at the top of the stretch before taking control while hard-ridden to the wire. The final time for the 1 11/6-mile event was 1:45 4/5 on a fast track.
Kota rallied from last in the six-horse field to finish second for John McKee, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Summerly.
Summerly, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., held a comfortable lead through an opening fraction of :24 before coming under pressure from Quiet Optimism in a half-mile fraction of :47 2/5. Runway Model completed the six furlongs in 1:13.
Mille Lacs finished fourth, followed by 6-5 second choice In the Gold, who came up empty in the lane with Pat Day aboard. Quiet Optimism trailed/
Runway Model, who earned $133,548 for her fourth win in a busy campaign of 10 starts this year, was coming off a troubled third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Lone Star Park last month. The winner of the Alcibiades (gr. II) at Keeneland Oct. 8, she earned $580,598 in her juvenile season for owner Naveed Chowhan.
Bernie Flint trains the Kentucky-bred daughter of Petionville
-Ticket to Houston (Houston), a $260,000 Ocala sale in February. Everest Stables bred her.
Flint had intended for the Breeders' Cup race to be her last of the year, but he decided to run her in the Golden Rod when it became clear that she was not ready to finish her busy season.
"She's a throwback to the old days," said Flint. "She's everything that I'd like to be if I was a racehorse. She's just a doll and she wants to be a runner – and she was broken-hearted when I locked her up."
Runway Model gave Flint his fourth stakes win at Churchill Downs and his first since a victory with Top Corsage in the 1988 Falls City Handicap. Martin scored his second stakes victory of the weekend after winning his first Churchill Downs stakes race on Thanksgiving Day with Halory Leigh.
She paid $4.20, $2.80 and $2.80. Kota returned $4.60 and $3.80, and Summerly was $5.20 to show.