My Baby Baby tracked the early pacesetters in fourth, made an outside move on the final turn to grab the lead fromTapitsfly, and held off a late charge from fast-closing longshot Ravi's Song to win $113,900 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a neck June 11 at Churchill Downs.
The victory gave trainer Ken McPeek his third straight stakes win at Churchill Downs. Last Saturday, he swept a pair of grade III events, the Dogwood and Aristides, with Salty Strike and Noble's Promise , respectively. McPeek now has 20 stakes wins at Churchill.
The 6-year-old daughter of Bernstein, owned by Sue McPeek’s Magdalena Racing, covered 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:42.40 under jockey Manny Cruz, who rode five winners on the day.
Bred in Kentucky by E. H. Beau Lane III, My Baby Baby is out of the Wavering Monarch mare Sarah Darling.
“I was able to keep this mare relaxed,” said jockey Manoel Cruz. “I knew she wanted to go, but she let me hold her and she stayed comfortable. I had a hold on her all the way into the stretch and then I finally let her run and she took off.”
Abuela, a 53-1 outsider, led the 10-horse field of fillies and mares through the first half-mile in fractions of :24.06 and :48.27. Tapitsfly was in close pursuit and took command down the backstretch, clocking six furlongs in 1:12.20. My Baby Baby raced in the clear from fourth most of the way and drew even entering the stretch. Ravi’s Song, 15-1, saved ground along the inside until she swung out for an outside rally to just miss. She finished a nose ahead of Tapitsfly in third.
Snow Top Mountain, the slight 2-1 favorite over Check the Label, finished another length back in fourth and was followed by Askbut I Won'ttell, Abuela, Silver La Belle, Sweetest Song, Check the Label, and Vivo Per Lei. Bella Medaglia was scratched.
My Baby Baby returned $17.20, $8.20, and $5.20. Ravi’s Song paid $13.40 and $7.80. Tapitsfly returned $4.40 to show. The exacta (9-1) was $256.40.
In all likeliness, the Early Times Mint Julep was the final start of My Baby Baby’s 30-race career. The mare won while in foal to 2007-08 Horse of the Year Curlin , and she’ll give birth early next year. She was covered Feb. 12.
“I’m so proud of her that she finally got that elusive graded stakes win,” McPeek said. “She’s been knocking on the door and had been graded stakes-placed five times.”
The $67,088 first prize jumped My Baby Baby’s earnings to $493,739. Her other black-type wins came in the 2008 Pleasant temper Stakes at Kentucky Downs and 2010 Fairway Fun Stakes at Turfway Park. She was second in the a pair of graded races—the 2008 Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) and the Grey Goose Bewitch (gr. IIIT) in her last start on April 28 at Keeneland.