Favored Rich in Spirit enjoyed a great stalking trip under jockey Gary Stevens, kicking home at the eighth pole to win the $225,000 Regret (gr. IIIT) in her graded stakes debut on the Churchill Downs turf Saturday.
Breaking from the outside post in the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-old fillies, Stevens angled Rich in Spirit toward the inside while well in hand, from where she tracked pacesetter Sweet Talker and Royal Bean through moderate fractions. Responding to urging the Repriced
filly challenged the stubborn Sweet Talker on the outside in deep stretch before edging away for a 1 1/4-length victory in a time of 1:49 3/5.
Stevens won his second graded stakes race on the Churchill card Saturday after taking the Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup (gr. III) with Don't Get Mad in the preceding race.
"We got a great trip from the 11-hole, there were two nice pacemakers in front and she did the rest for me," said Stevens. "She's got a helluva turn of foot. Through the stretch, when they open up with 50 yards to go like she did, they're pretty tough to beat."
Sweet Talker, ridden by Brice Blanc, finished second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Royal Bean and Mark Guidry, who nosed Irish-bred Insan Mala for third.
Trained by Thomas Proctor for owner/breeder Glen Hill Farm, Stevens rode Rich in Spirit in her previous start, the 1 1/16-mile Edgewood at Churchill May 6. In that race, the Florida-bred fell out to last and was left with too much to do, closing stoutly to finish second, three-quarters of a length behind Sweet Talker. Rich in Spirit was much closer Saturday as she chased tepid splits of :24 4/5, :49 4/5 and 1:14 2/5.
Rich in Spirit triumphed for the first time in four starts this year. Overall, she has won four of her nine career starts with earnings of $294,342. Saturday's win was worth $139,500.
She paid $6.40, $3.20, and $2.40. Sweet Talker returned $3.60 and $2.60. Royal Bean's show was $4.40.
After Insan Mala came Cape Hope, Godsend, Special Grayce, and Classy Charm. Scratched were Mi Luna Nueva, Ascot Dream, and Congratulating.