Helen Groves and Helen Alexander’s Acoma seems to have found a new home on the grass, as the 3-year-old Empire Maker filly won her second graded turf event in as many starts, this time taking the $201,950 Mrs. Revere Stakes (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) by 1 1/4 lengths Nov. 8 at Churchill Downs.
With red-hot Julien Leparoux aboard for trainer David Carroll, Acoma stayed mid-pack through the backstretch, moved into striking position coming off the final turn, and tackled pacesetter My Baby Baby in mid-stretch before pulling away for an eye-catching victory. The final time for 1 1/16 miles on the "firm" turf was 1:43.52.
My Baby Baby, who nearly wired the field of 11 sophomore fillies, settled for second under Robby Albarado. Scolara was a clear third with Kent Desormeaux aboard. Absolutely Cindy rallied well for fourth.
Acoma, who was unraced as a 2-year-old, is in the midst of a terrific season for Carroll. The bay has produced a 5-1-1 record from eight starts, but it is her two turf efforts that have turned heads. After making the first six starts of her career on dirt or Polytrack, Acoma made her turf debut last out in the $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes (gr. IIIT) Oct. 17 at Keeneland, rallying to win by a half-length for her second graded stakes score. Earlier in the season she won the grade III Dogwood Stakes on the Churchill dirt.
The Mrs. Revere seems to have confirmed that Acoma’s future is on turf, but Carroll is not ruling out anything with his talented filly.
"She's run two great races on turf; there's no doubt about that," Carroll said. "But I really believe if this race was on the dirt today she would have run just as well. She has been training unbelievable the last three weeks and is really such an improved filly. I think we're in a unique situation. She can handle any kind of surface, and so we'll keep our options open. Our goal for next year is to get her a grade I win. Sometimes those grade I turf races are tougher than the dirt races. We'll just have to see what the right spot is.
"I also think what helped her a lot is that she got stabled (at Churchill). She doesn't realy like to ship too much, and she got nice and settled here. She really showed a turn of foot today that she hadn't showed before. It was definately her best effort yet.
"We'll call it a year now. We'll let her down here and send her back to Middlebrook Farm in Lexington, where she was raised. Then we'll map something out next year."
My Baby Baby, sent off at odds of 8-1, broke sharply from the inside post and outfought Golden Doc A and Dark Sky for the early lead. She clicked off a reasonable :24.04 first quarter and continued to set the pace for a half-mile in :47.69 and six furlongs in 1:12.08 while being pressed by Golden Doc A. The Bernstein filly had more to give coming out of the final turn and opened a 2 1/2-length advantage with a furlong remaining. Raw Silk, Acoma, Scolara, and post-time favorite My Princess Jess were closest to the front-runner.
After being angled out four-wide by Leparoux, Acoma gobbled up her rivals in upper stretch and ran down My Baby Baby nearing the sixteenth pole. She won going away.
“She actually kicked very nicely in the stretch," said Leparoux, the leading rider at the current Churchill meet. "Last time, she was more of a grinder; she just kept going but she never really kicked. She really kicked on nicely in the stretch. She’s going to improve on the turf.
"She won last time, but she didn’t know; she had a lot of questions to answer. Today, she beat a good field and won very easy, so I think she’s going to improve again and hopefully be better next year, too.”
Acoma was bred in Kentucky by Groves and Alexander, and is out of the Danzig mare Aurora. She upped her career earnings to $390,260.
The winner paid $7.20, $4.20, and $3.40 as the second choice. The exacta (3-1) was worth $55.20, while the trifecta (3-1-5) returned $233.80.
My Princess Jess finished fifth, followed by Seemingly, Clear Pond, Raw Silk, Sky Mom, Golden Doc A, and Dark Sky.