Southern California shipper Miss Empire, the 1-2 favorite ridden by Russell Baze, won a stretch-long battle with outsider Butterfly Soul to capture the $100,000 Pike Place Dancer Stakes by a neck Oct. 27 at Golden Gate Fields (VIDEO).
Miss Empire, racing on the inside, fought back after losing the lead to Butterfly Soul to earn her second career stakes victory. Making her first start on turf in the one-mile feature for 2-year-old fillies, Miss Empire clocked a time of 1:38.84 on a rain-dampened course rated "good" and paid $3 as a popular favorite.
"The turf was a little soft and she was bobbling on it," said Baze. "If she had gotten a better hold of the turf, I don't think they would have gotten to her. As soon as (Butterfly Soul) came up to her she dug back in, but it took her awhile to get her momentum and get going. Toward the end, she switched back to her left lead and was able to accelerate past the other horse. I think she has a promising future."
Butterfly Soul, a 10-1 shot, was ridden by Dennis Carr, who returned to Golden Gate Fields for the fall meeting after spending the past few years in New York. Carr finished second to Baze in the jockey standings at 10 major meetings in Northern California during two previous stays in the area.
"Just like old times," said Carr with a grin upon entering the jockey's room following the Pike Place Dancer.
Butterfly Soul, based in Northern California and trained by Genaro Vallejo, was also making her first start on turf and greatly pleased Carr with her effort.
"My filly ran huge," he said. "First time on grass, you couldn't ask for anything more. Hopefully she'll have a future on it (turf). She got a hair bit tired but Russell's filly dug in. She made the favorite work hard."
Somethingabouther was third in the field of six, 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
Miss Empire, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Empire Maker out of the winning Rajab mare Miss Excitement, is trained by Peter Miller and owned in partnership by Gary and Cecil Barber and Kevin Tsujihara. The bay was bred by Dan and Frank Cassella and sold for $165,000 as a 2-year-old in training at OBS in March.
Winner of the Cinderella Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park during the summer, Miss Empire earned $60,000 for the Pike Place Dancer victory and has made $207,120 in seven career starts.