Bobby Flay's Dame Dorothy earned her first grade I victory May 2 and did so with distinction, running down game champion Judy the Beauty and surprisingly tough 18-1 pacesetter Moonlit Stroll in the $300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) at Churchill Downs (VIDEO).
Those three hooked up for a charge down the stretch after Moonlit Stroll showed the way in the seven-furlong test, and it was Todd Pletcher trainee Dame Dorothy who ground out the neck victory over even-money favorite Judy the Beauty, with Moonlit Stroll a neck back third.
Final time was 1:22.67 on a fast track.
Bumped at the start and in tight early, Dame Dorothy shifted out four wide to be clear under jockey Javier Castellano. After tracking fourth behind a :23.09 quarter and moving up to third behind a :46.47 half, she made her run turning for home and struck up the battle through three-quarters in 1:10.22.
"You've got to use this filly away from there; she's not the quickest out of the gate," said Castellano, who collected his second Humana Distaff victory after winning in 2005 on My Trusty Cat. "So I got after her and she responded. When we got position, I felt very good. Every time I asked her, she gave it to me.
"Coming down the stretch I knew it was going to be close. I knew Judy the Beauty was going to be tough. But my filly kept responding and she gave me so much confidence I felt I could celebrate a little before the wire."
All out to narrowly prevail at odds of 3-5 in a field of eight older fillies and mares, Dame Dorothy returned $7.20, $3.20, and $2.60, while Judy the Beauty paid $2.80 and $2.20 in her first start of 2015 after winning the Nov. 1 DraftKings Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) last year.
"She ran well, not much else to say to be honest. She just kind of needed the race, that's all," jockey Mike Smith reported.
Completing the order of finish behind Moonlit Stroll ($5.20) were Sweet Reason, Clearly Confused, Thank You Marylou, and You Bought Her. Sweet Whiskey scratched to run in the May 1 La Troienne Stakes (gr. I), where she finished eighth.
Dame Dorothy was bred in Pennsylvania by Derry Meeting Farm from the Woodman mare Vole Vole Monamour. The 4-year-old Bernardini filly came off a runner-up finish in the March 14 Santa Margarita Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park, her first try in top-level company.
"She got bounced around there pretty good at the start, but Javier was able to bounce her into the perfect spot," Pletcher said. "It was just harried the first 100 yards. We've been trying to find out her optimum distance. I wasn't a 100 percent sure that as a daughter of Bernardini, she couldn't go long. But I thought her seven-eighths race at Gulfstream was probably her best to date. After that we decided to back her up into here. This is probably her niche. This was a big win. It was important for our filly to get the grade I."
A $390,000 purchase from the Eaton Sales consignment at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale, she improved her record to 6-1-1 from eight starts for earnings of $619,740.