Sassy Image, who swept the Pocahontas (gr. III) and Golden Rod (gr. II) Stakes at Churchill Downs last fall, kicked off her 3-year-old campaign with a facile victory in the off-the-turf Sweetest Chant Stakes at rainy Gulfstream Park Jan. 17 (VIDEO).
With Robby Albarado aboard, the daughter of Broken Vow found room along the inside coming into the stretch and took command en route to a 4 1/2-length victory as the 7-10 choice in the $98,000 event. Sassy Image was timed in 1:37.42 for the one-turn mile over a sloppy and sealed main track. She defeated four rivals.
Blackwell, who set the pace for John Velazquez as the longest shot in the field, was a clear second by more than five lengths over Check the Label, ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Trained by Dale Romans for his older brother, Jerry, Sassy Image extended her winning streak to three races. Sassy Image had never raced on the turf before, so she took the switch back to the main track in stride. She won the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod by 3 3/4 lengths in her most recent effort Nov. 28.
Sassy Image is now two-for-two over off-tracks in her career and picked up her first victory away from Churchill Downs.
She raced in second as Blackwell built a comfortable lead while clicking off quick quarter-mile fractions of :23.47, :45.93 and 1:10.76. Sassy Image dropped back to third on the turn as Risky Rachel moved into position on her outside, but she responded to hand urging from Albarado to exploit the inside gap coming into the homestretch. After opening up a clear advantage, she found another gear when roused in the lane and drew off easily.
Bred in Kentucky by J C Davis Farm, Sassy Image is out of the Hennessy mare Ideal Image and sold for $42,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2008. She improved her career record to 4-1-1 in eight races and boosted her earnings to $307,684 with the winner's share of $60,000.
Sassy Image carried top weight of 120 pounds and paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10. Blackwell returned $6.80 and $3.20 and completed an exacta payoff of $15. Check the Label was $2.80 to show. Risky Rachel faded to fourth. Strike It Rich trailed. Lucky Lass and Dancing Rage scratched.