Shadow Cast, who had a three-race win streak broken in her last start, rebounded to win the $336,300 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) Friday at Churchill Downs.
The 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike
very nearly won her fifth in a row. In her prior start, she had a rough trip in the Apple Blossom (gr. I) at Oaklawn and finished third, beaten less than a length. Before that, she won the Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), Truly Bound Handicap, and Pago Hop Stakes.
Bred and owned by Bill Farish, Shadow Cast is trained by Neil Howard and was ridden by Robby Albarado.
"The speed was to outr advantage. She's a nice filly, and they're hard to come by," said Howard, noting that Shadow Cast is equally at home on the turf.
Tempus Fugit, as is her style, took the lead, but speed has not been playing well at Churchill all day. She was joined by Resplendency through opening fractions in the 1 1/16-mile race of :22.74 and :45.64. Resplendency held the lead as the field hit six furlongs in 1:10.96.
But Shadow Cast was just gearing up for her best run with a wide sweeping move on the far turn after trailing the nine-horse field for the first half-mile. She shot to the lead a sixteenth of mile out and held off a late run by Island Sand for the one-length win.
"We were squeezed back a little farther than I wanted to be on the first turn, but she was kind about everything," Albarado said. "There was a lot of bumping going on in front of me so I went to swing her around the outside where she's more comfortable."
Island Sand, ridden by Mike Smith, was running for the second straight year on Oaks day. Last year, she ran second in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) to Ashado.
"The trip beat her," Smith said. "I got hung out on the first turn because of the outside post. What he (jockey Robby Albarado on Shadow Cast) got to save on me is what he beat me by."
Shadow Cast, who has won eight of 18 starts, crossed the wire in 1:42.48. She paid $9.80, $4.80, and $3.80. Island Sand returned $7 and $5, finishing a half-length in front of Storm's Darling, who came on for third with Eddie Martin Jr. aboard and paid $5.60.
The winner earned $210,366 for the victory and has banked $668,851 in her career.
Personal Legend finished fourth, while 5-2 favorite Star Parade, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, faded to fifth after making a bold move on the far turn to reach even terms with the leaders.
"I was in a comfortable position going into the turn, and I thought she was going to make up the ground," Valenzuela said. "But the closers went by us, and she didn't run that well in the stretch. She didn't run her race today. But look out next time."
Then came La Reason, Resplendency, Two Trail Sioux and Tempus Fugit, who was distanced in the stretch and did not finish.