Vuitton nips Beat the Blues by a nose to win the Carousel Stakes.

Vuitton nips Beat the Blues by a nose to win the Carousel Stakes.

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Vuitton Bags Carousel for Red-Hot Asmussen

Trainer picks up four wins, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. gets five at Oaklawn April 11.

Vuitton came from well off the pace to edge favored Beat the Blues by a nose in the $100,000 Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn Park April 11, highlighting a sensational afternoon for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr (VIDEO) .

Asmussen picked up his third of four wins on the card in the Carousel, and leading jockey Santana notched his fourth of five wins Thursday. Asmussen, who has been in a tight battle with Mac Robertson for the leading trainer title, assumed the lead by three wins. He heads into the final two days of the meet with 31 wins to Robertson's 28.

After trailing to the quarter pole in the eight-horse field, Vuitton was seven wide coming out of the far turn of the six-furlong test for older fillies and mares. The 4-year-old Smart Strike filly powered through the lane to prevail at the wire in 1:11.03 on a fast track. Beat the Blues, the 8-5 favorite ridden by Miguel Mena, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Lady Diva Ga Ga and Jon Court.

"My horse doesn't like running inside and when she saw the clear, she came running. She finished the race just beautifully," said the 19-year-old Santana, whose five victories was the most in any single day of his career.

Carrying 117 pounds and dispatched at 5-1, Vuitton paid $12, $5.20, and $3.40.

The victory was the first in a stakes race and the third straight at Oaklawn for Vuitton. The Kentucky-bred filly out of the Farma Way mare Juliet's Way improved her record to 13-5-6-1 and increased her bankroll to $254,024 for owners Gillian Campbell, Ralph and Shelly Stayer, and Andrew Pajak. Padua Stables bred the winner.

"She's run big on this racetrack. As soon as we got her back to sprinting, she's excelled. I'm excited about this weekend. We've got a lot of horses to run," said Darren Fleming, Asmussen's assistant. They have 17 horses entered on the Arkansas Derby program.

Bill Martin, the owner of Beat the Blues, said, "That was a tough beat. She ran great. We will probably take her to Churchill now and try her in the Winning Colors Stakes (gr. III) again."