California invader Blind Luck confirmed her status as the top 3-year-old filly in the nation, as she overcame a slow pace, passed odds-on choice Devil May Care at the eighth-pole, and wore down Havre de Grace in the late stages to win the $500,000 Betfair TVG Alabama Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) by a neck Aug. 21 at Saratoga.
Trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, Blind Luck scored the fifth grade I win of her stellar career while easily winning the showdown against Devil May Care, who was regarded as the top sophomore filly on the East Coast. The daughter of Pollard's Vision has now earned $1,878,712 from her 13 starts, nine of which have been wins.
It was the third grade I win of the season for Blind Luck, winner of the Las Virgenes (gr. I) in February at Santa Anita and the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) April 30 at Churchill Downs.
“It seems like we have the best 3-year-old filly, right now," Hollendorfer said. "(But) I hate to make those kinds of assessments."
The slow pace of the 10-furlong Alabama did the late-running Blind Luck no favors, but under the handling of Joel Rosario the chestnut filly stayed patient at the back of a dawdling pace. She raced last in a field of six while Acting Happy led the way through splits of :24.03, :49.45, and 1:14.81. There was little change in the order through six furlongs, as Tizahit raced in second, Connie and Michael and Havre de Grace were in the next group, Devil May Care was fifth, and Blind Luck was well back.
Runner-up to Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) last out, Havre de Grace came off the final turn full of run while striking the front. Devil May Care was in the midst of her patented strong middle move to get into winning position at the top of the lane, but a little further behind her was Blind Luck, who was moving even better while coming five-wide.
Blind Luck easily went by Devil May Care with a furlong remaining, but still had a lot of work remaining to reach Havre de Grace, who continued her 7-1 upset bid in deep stretch. As she nearly always does, Blind Luck caught her rival nearing the wire to win a thriller. The final time on the fast dirt track was 2:03.89.
“I was very, very comfortable where I was," Rosario said. "Turning for home, I could see two or three lanes of horses in front of me, and I knew that my horse would move well if they started moving. I was expecting a pretty slow pace, but I sat in behind them and watched. I stayed back, and when I got to the quarter pole I was very confident and I knew I’d get there.”
Havre de Grace finished runner-up with Jeremy Rose aboard, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Acting Happy and Jose Lezcano. Devil May Care was a disappointing fourth under John Velazquez, who won five races on the Saratoga card.
Blind Luck remained undefeated in four starts on dirt and took a commanding lead in the race for champion 3-year-old filly. Bred in Kentucky by Fairlawn Farm and out of the Best of Luck mare Lucky One, she is also owned by Mark Dedomenico, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo. She was an $11,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2008 select yearling sale.
"We’ll see what she can do the rest of the year," Hollendorfer said. "She did all the work, and I just get to train her. I give Blind Luck all the credit. We’ve had a very consistent filly all year long. She’s real flexible and got the job done today on a slow pace. I’m very proud of her the way she did it.
“There’s nothing for her on the West Coast, so we’ll have to travel again. We’d like six or seven weeks between races.”
The winner paid $5.60, $3.80, and $3.60. Havre de Grace returned $6 and $5.90, and fillied out a $29.60 exacta, and Acting Happy returned $9 to show. The trifecta was $147.
Of her uncharacteristically dull effort, Devil May Care trainer Todd Pletcher said: "She didn't fire."