Genuine Devotion holds off Brownie Points to take the Locust Grove.

Genuine Devotion holds off Brownie Points to take the Locust Grove.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer

Genuine Devotion Takes Locust Grove

The daughter of Rock of Gibraltar won the closing day feature July 6 at Churchill

Making her first start around two turns was no problem at all for Irish-bred Genuine Devotion, as she broke from the rail and led every step of the way to take the $171,750 Locust Grove Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a half-length July 6 at Churchill Downs.

Owned by James Barry and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Genuine Devotion has now won four in a row, but the Locust Grove – the spring meet’s closing day feature – was her first graded score. The 4-year-old daughter of Rock of Gibraltar covered a mile in 1:35.76 on the firm Matt Winn Turf Course with Alan Garcia aboard. It was not Garcia’s first and only mount of the 52-day meet, but his first ever at Churchill.

Pin Oak Stable’s homebred mare Brownie Points came four-wide into the stretch to make a determined closing bid under Luis Quinonez, but wound up just short. Bayou’s Lassie was another 2 1/4 lengths back in third, with Say You Will, also bred in Ireland, finishing fourth in a field of 10.

Genuine Devotion entered the Locust Grove in fine form, winning three straight six-furlong sprints on the Belmont turf. Included in those were a gate-to-wire triumph in the Oct. 14 Xtra Heat Handicap, which concluded her sophomore season. After being off for more than seven months, the bay filly returned in the May 17 Upper Noosh Stakes and won by 1 1/4 lengths as the favorite.

Going off as the favorite once again in the Locust Grove, Genuine Devotion was sensible in posting fractions of :23.84, :47.52, and 1:11.38. Three-time graded winner Bayou’s Lassie tracked under Robby Albarado, while Tears I Cry was sitting nicely in the three hole and was never far behind. Those three were not separated by much as they came out of the far turn, but Genuine Devotion easily repulsed their bids. Brownie Points, who entered off a victory in the May 26 Ouija Board Handicap (gr. IIIT), was the longtime leader’s only threat in the stretch, but she ran out of room.

"My filly was very comfortable today and I had a lot of horse," Garcia said. "At the quarter pole, I asked her and she was running and she began to pick it up and I looked back and nobody was coming and she got the job done. The trainer did an outstanding job with the filly and had a lot of confidence in her to bring her to Kentucky. I am so happy my filly got the job done.”

McLaughlin said: “We were a little concerned about (the distance) but we thought she would get a mile okay. She is just a very talented filly and Alan did a great job of trying to slow her down as much as he could and save something for the finish. She ran very well, she likes firm turf, soft turf, she actually ran huge on the dirt her first start of her life.”

Bred by Lynch Bages and Elite Bloodstock, Genuine Devotion is out of the Black Tie Affair mare Starlight Dreams. She was purchased for $90,000 at the Keeneland 2005 September yearling sale. She is 5-0-0 from eight lifetime starts (four-for-five on turf) and has earned $275,725.

The winner paid $6.60, $4.40, and $3. The exacta (1-2) was worth $33.40, while the trifecta (1-2-5) netted $106.80.

You Go West Girl was fifth, followed by Tears I Cry, New Edition, Meribel, Grace Happens, and Lemonlime.

(Chart, Equibase)