Alex Solis slowed down the pace and had plenty left down the lane as he guided Miss Terrible to a front-running upset win Saturday in the $112,200 Comp USA Turf Mile (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs.
Solis shot to the lead from the rail and controlled the pace on the firm turf course. Sand Springs sat in second most of the way, and Shaconage came from last after a half-mile to get third.
Miss Terrible ran the mile in 1:35.89 after setting fractions of :24.45, :48.62, 1:12.69 and 1:24.02, while winning her 10th race in 13 starts. One of those losses came in her native Argentina and the other two her first two races in this country way back in 2003.
After a stretch-long battle, the 6-year-old mare won by a length over Sand Springs, ridden by Jerry Bailey, who nosed the fast-closing Shaconage and Rafael Bejarano. Shaconage won this race a year ago at odds of 19-1.
"I was just keeping her relaxed," Solis said of his tactics. "She's a very game horse and I had to make sure I saved enough for the finish. I had to ask her to run at the right time, and I thought the eighth pole was the right place on the turf track."
Miss Terrible was off from August 2003 until February 2005 when she won the six-furlong Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) on the dirt at Santa Anita. Miss Terrible has been training at Hawthorne before shipping to Churchill to win the stakes.
By Numerous, out of the Farnesio mare Teidi, she has been trained her last two starts by Bradley Ross. Carol and Charles Hammersmith own her.
Miss Terrible was a multiple group I winner in Argentina before shipping to the U.S. and trainer Bobby Frankel. She made one start for Frankel and one for Wesley Ward before going to the sidelines and returning with Ross. She's the only horse the former horse shoer has saddled this year.
"She's my only horse in training and she's like one of my kids," Ross said. "I always say I've got a son and a daughter, and my daughter has four legs.
"I thought she'd be stalking the pace, but when she went to the front so easily, she just took control," Ross said. "She was a champion in Argentina, and she runs like a champion when she takes control."
"We had a rough start after she came up from South America, because she didn't acclimate well, and then she was injured. I ran her on the dirt this winter (Las Flores) because there was nothing else in California. I'm based in Chicago, and she's trained really well at Hawthorne this spring. I pointed for this race all year."
The winner paid $12.40, $6 and $4.40 as the fifth choice in an evenly matched fied of seven. The win, worth $69,564, pushed her lifetime earnings to $223,081.
Sand Springs, who has the hit the board in six of eight starts on the Churchill turf, winning three times, returned $4.60 and $3.60. Shaconage, who has lost eight in a row since winning the Locust Grove Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill June 26, was $4.80 to show. She lost for the first time in four tries at the mile turf distance.
"I thought I had them (the leaders) measured, said Bejarano. "A little more distance and I would have had them."
Mambo Slew was fourth with lukewarm 3-1 favorite Warning Zone finishing fifth under John Velazquez. Boasting and Ticker Tape trailed.