Seaneen Girl, a Woodbine shipper sent off at 31-1, fought her way past favorite Gal About Town in deep stretch to win the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) by a half-length Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs.
Liberated, who was pinched back at the start, rallied for third in the 1 1/16-mile event (VIDEO).
Making her first start for Dr. Naveed Chowhan and trainer Bernie Flint, the daughter of first-crop sire Spring At Last made her first five starts over Woodbine’s Polytrack surface for trainer Robert Tiller and owners Rolph Davis and Tiller. A $50,000 maiden claiming winner first time out, she ran twice at the $40,000 claiming level before a second-place finish at 19-1 in the two-turn Mazarine Stakes (Can-III) Oct. 6. That winner, Spring Venture, is also from the first crop of Spring at Last.
"I saw a couple of the Spring At Last’s run that I really liked and I was looking for one," said Flint. "I saw this filly run in Canada and a guy called me and told me she was for sale. I had to go right away to Canada if I wanted her, so I jumped on a plane and went to Canada, checked her out and then came back home the same day. It was pretty hard to do for an old man. (Robert Tiller) did an excellent job of breaking this filly and bringing her around. He should get some credit."
Chowhan and Flint combined to win the 2004 Golden Rod with Runway Model.
In the Golden Rod, 10-1 Pow Wow Wow set the pace under Calvin Borel while being chased by Cloudy Vow through early splits of :23.85, :48.33, and 1:13.62. Tracking confidently in third was Gal About Town, who followed the leaders while wide around the far turn.
Gal About Town took the advantage into the stretch but was facing a stiff challenge by several horses, including Seaneen Girl and a wide Liberated. Seaneen Girl shook free of the pack and ran down the favorite to hit the line in 1:44.95 under Miguel Mena.
"I had a great trip," Mena said. "The filly broke good and we saved ground on both turns. We stalked the favorite (Gal About Town) and I waited as long as I could. She was game."
Seaneen Girl paid $64, $21.60, and $9.20. Gal About Town returned $7.20 and $3.40 and Liberated paid $4.80 to show. The exacta paid $271.40 and the trifecta paid $1,867. Cloudy Vow finished fourth.
"She was cruising along really fine and I was in the right spot in the first part of the race," said runner-up rider Jesus Castanon. "I was very happy with it. When I asked her to kick-in, she gave me a nice kick and she finished up really strong, but the other filly ran past us. She really gave me all she had and I’m happy with that."
The winner was bred in Kentucky by John Trumbulovic and is the fourth foal out of the winning Afternoon Deelites mare Afternoon Krystal, a half sister to Ellis Park stakes winner Red Raymond. The Golden Rod winner was a $5,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall sale yearling. She was sold to Tiller from the Darby Dan Farm consignment.
Broken Spell, Danalake, Street of Gold, Pow Wow Wow, and Silver Strike completed the order of finish.
The 69th running of the Golden Rod is one of 35 races on the new point-based “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series that will determine which 14 fillies will have preference for the Oaks (gr. I). The Top 14 point earners nominated to the Oaks at the end of the series will earn a spot in the Kentucky Oaks starting gate.
Points in each race are awarded to the Top 4 finishers. The Golden Rod, part of the 20-race “Kentucky Oaks Prep Season” which continues through mid-February, was worth 10 points for Seaneen Girl and gave her 14 overall, which ranks second to Executiveprivilege. Earnings in non-restricted stakes races will break all ties. Executiveprivelege has banked $870,000 in such races, while Seaneen Girl has won $143,621.
Gal About Town earned four points for second, Liberated received two points for third and Cloudy Vow notched one point for fourth.