Four Gifts scored the second graded victory of her career with a late charge from the outside in the $113,300 Eight Belles Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) May 2 at Churchill Downs. The gray/roan daughter of Even the Score grabbed the lead from favored Just Jenda in the stretch and then pulled away to win by three lengths while covering 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:30.94 over a track that was rated as sloppy.
The Eight Belles previously was known as the La Troienne, but the stakes was renamed to honor the filly that broke down and was euthanized after finishing second to Big Brown in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan for trainer Steve Asmussen, Four Gifts was sent off as the second betting choice in the field of eight 3-year-old fillies. She raced in fifth early while Lady's Laughter and Auspicious dueled on the lead, setting fractions of :23.34 and :46.16. Four Gifts angled out to challenge the leaders with three furlongs remaining and fought through traffic to pass them and the rallying Just Jenda, who drifted to the inside.
“I had a phenomenal trip,” Bridgmohan said. “She (Four Gifts) settled really nice behind. She did everything I wanted her to do. The speed set up very good. I was able to watch the horse (Just Jenda) that I wanted to watch and got her on the outside of me. I just got her (Four Gifts) in the right spot that I thought she needed to be. The rest was up to her, and she did it. She ran a really nice race for me.”
When Just Jenda’s drift to the inside blocked Four Gifts’ path late, “ I had to alter course,” Bridgmohan said. “Once I got on the outside of her, she (Four Gifts) just accelerated and went on about her business pretty nicely.”
Larry Jones, who trained Eight Belles, saddled Just Jenda and third-place finisher Warrior Maid, who was two lengths behind her stablemate at the wire. Rounding out the field were Lady’s Laughter, C. S. Silk, Dave's Revenge, the Amussen-trained Auspicious, and She's Extreme.
The Eight Belles victory improved Four Gifts’ record to four wins in nine career races. Owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, she ended her 2008 campaign with a victory in the Boyd Gaming's Delta Princess Powered by Youbet.com Stakes (gr. III).
Four Gifts made her 2009 debut in January at the Fair Grounds, finishing third behind the winning Just Jenda in the Tiffany Lass Stakes. Four Gifts next was second in the Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III) in which Just Jenda finished third. In her last race prior to the Eight Belles, Four Gifts ran fourth on a sloppy sealed track in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II). The race was won by Rachel Alexandra, who went on to crush her rivals in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
“I think the distance is the key with her,” said Asmussen of Four Gifts. “She’s been a very special filly from seven-eighths to a mile.”
Four Gifts returned $9.60, $4.20, and $3.00 to her backers. Just Jenda paid $3.40 and $2.80. And Warrior Maid returned $5.00.
Millennium Farms bred Four Gifts in Kentucky. She is out of the Service Stripe mare Agiftfromservice.