Trainer Bill Mott put an exclamation point on his big Breeders' Cup weekend at Churchill Downs when the regally-bred Deluxe held on for a half-length victory in the $109,900 Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) Nov. 6 (VIDEO).
Mott, Churchill's all-time leading trainer, saddled both Ladies' Classic (gr. I) winner Royal Delta and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) victor Drosselmeyer in the preceding two days.
Juddmonte Farms' Deluxe, by Storm Cat out of the great Kahyasi mare Hasili--a producer of five grade I winners--registered her first graded stakes win as the 3-2 favorite facing six rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Cardinal. Deluxe is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) winners Banks Hill and Intercontinental.
The 4-year-old filly began her career in France and won for the first time in three starts in the United States.
Getting the lead soon after pacesetter Tapitsfly gave way in the stretch, Deluxe inched away to a half-length advantage over Ravi's Song in the final furlong and prevailed under encouragement from jockey Julien Leparoux. The final time was 1:50.53 on firm turf.
Tapitsfly, the 2009 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner, set a solid pace (:23.66, :47.60, 1:11.87) while maintaining about a one-length advantage over Mutually Benefit, with Deluxe tracking alongside Kiss Mine in fourth. Deluxe advanced three wide on the final turn and remained on the outside through the lane before challenging at the furlong pole. Deluxe, narrowly leading Ravi's Song in deep stretch, made it stand up all the way to the wire.
“She really ran nice today and really fought at the end," Leparoux said. "Every time (Ravi’s Song) came to her, she would fight her off. She ran big.”
Ravi's Song, ridden by Corey Lanerie, finished two lengths in front of Kiss Mine and Edgar Prado. Distorted Love, Tapitsfly, Mutually Benefit, and A She's Adorable completed the order.
Deluxe made her first start since finishing last of six in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) on a yielding inner turf course at Belmont Park Oct. 1. She was second in an overnight stakes on the inner Saratoga lawn in her U.S. debut a month earlier. In France, she won three of six starts, including a listed stakes, and ran fourth in the 2010 French Oaks (Fr-I).
“The yielding turf last time (in the Flower Bowl) was a definite issue and she just didn’t handle it at all," Mott said. "The ground was firm enough for her today to win this race. (The bloodlines) always come out and she’s very well bred. If she stays in training the next challenge would be to win a grade I, but we’ll have a discussion about that soon.”
Her lifetime mark, 4-2-0 in nine starts, includes earnings of $291,145 with the Cardinal's winning purse of $66,775.
Carrying 115 pounds, Deluxe paid $5, $3.20, $2.60. Second choice Ravi's Song returned $3 and $2.60. The exacta was worth $16.40. Kiss Mine paid $4.60 to show.