Sassy Image made her win in the grade I Humana Distaff look easy earlier this month at Churchill Downs, but she was pushed to the limit by longshot Beat the Blues May 30 before prevailing by a neck in the $111,600 Winning Colors (gr. III) (VIDEO).
The 4-year-old daughter of Broken Vow notched her fourth graded stakes victory—all of them at Churchill—with her hard-fought neck triumph. With Corey Lanerie aboard for trainer Dale Romans, she was all out in the stretch to run down 10-1 Beat the Blues, and needed every yard of the final furlong to do so.
Sassy Image won for the fifth time in six starts at Churchill, and for the sixth time in 13 starts overall. She is owned by Romans’ brother, Jerry Romans, and was bred in Kentucky by J C Davis Farm.
Sassy Image, sent off as the odds-on choice in a field of nine fillies and mares going six furlongs, raced in fifth in the early going while Starlite Starbrite set the pace through a :21.54 opening quarter mile. Beat the Blues then gained the advantage and after running a half-mile in a brisk :44.65 took a one-length lead into the stretch.
Starlite Starbrite was still fighting gamely along the inside, but Beat the Blues’ biggest threat was Sassy Image, who came five-wide into the lane and was bearing down on the leader. The chestnut filly did not catch her until the final two jumps.
The final time on the fast main track was 1:08.59. Beat the Blues was 4 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Fortune Play.
Sassy Image won the Humana Distaff by three lengths May 7 for her first win in three starts in 2011. Her other graded stakes wins at Churchill came as a 2-year-old in the Pocahontas (gr. III) and Golden Rod (gr. II). Her win on Memorial Day pushed Sassy Image’s earnings to $598,781.
“She loves this track and she ran good," Dale Romans said. "That was a little more work than I expected, but they ran so fast and there’s only so fast a horse can run. We’ll look at a couple of different spots for her now. We may go to Saratoga for the Ballerina (gr. I, Aug. 27). We’ll probably run her in one more sprint and then give her a route race before the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies Classic, gr. I, at Churchill on Nov. 4). We’re going to try and make her a champion and to get that she’ll probably have to win the (Ladies’ Classic).”
The winner, who is out of the Hennessy mare Ideal Image, paid $3.80, $2.60, and $2.40. The exacta (8-4) returned $29.60 and the trifecta (8-6-4) was worth $264.80.