Sent off as the 9-5 favorite in a field of 12, the 4-year-old Tiger Hill filly trailed for six furlongs before launching her winning move coming off the final turn. Under Jose Lezcano, she finally overtook pacesetter Ainamaa approaching mid-stretch with a quick burst along the hedge and went on to win by 3 3/4 lengths.
The final time for 1 3/8 miles on the good turf was 2:13.13. Bubbly Jane rallied on the outside to get second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Dyna Waltz. Ainamaa settled for fourth.
Cheetah won for the second time in three United States starts. The gray/roan filly won two of six starts in England before being shipped to Christophe Clement’s New York barn earlier this season. She won in her stateside debut April 23 on the Keeneland Polytrack, easily taking an allowance race before finishing third in the Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) in her most recent start May 28 at Belmont Park.
Cheetah was bred in England by Fittocks Stud and is out of the Kendor mare Kassiyra.
With Abel Castellano Jr. aboard, Ainamaa ensured a solid pace in the Robert Dick Memorial, leading through fractions of :23.57, :47.35, 1:11.99, and 1:36.85. Kilmore Quay, Millennia, and Freedom Rings were the closest to the leader, but she turned for home still going well on the front end.
It was nearing the eighth-pole that Ainamaa showed signs of tiring and Cheetah, full of run on the inside, easily went by her while also outrunning Bubbly Jane and Kent Desormeaux on the far outside.
“Mr. Clement told me let her break and rate her where you can,” said Lezcano. “In the stretch, she had a fabulous kick and she is a very nice filly. At the quarter-pole, everybody was looking a spot, but I had so much horse, I had to wait for the right moment to be clear. She was very impressive.”
Cheetah, who won the Williamhill.com Wild Flower Stakes last year at Kempton, improved to 4-1-2 from nine career starts. Purchased for $294,727 from the Tattersalls December mares sale in 2010, she has now earned $209,932.
The winner paid $5.80, $3.60, and $3.20. The $1 exacta (9-3) returned $20.20 and the trifecta (9-3-10) was worth $68.20 for $1.