Acoma (#7) rolls home late to capture the Dogwood (gr. III) May 31 at Churchill Downs.

Acoma (#7) rolls home late to capture the Dogwood (gr. III) May 31 at Churchill Downs.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer

Acoma Gets Up Late to Win Dogwood

Empire Maker filly scores first graded win

Acoma went from maiden to graded stakes winner in less than six weeks, as the 3-year-old Empire Maker  filly took over inside the sixteenth-pole in the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) May 31 at Churchill Downs and went on to win by a half-length under Robby Albarado.

Trained by David Carroll, Acoma was fourth coming out of the final turn, but found her best stride late, first passing tiring pacesetter Secret Gypsy and then collaring betting favorite Keep the Peace in the final yards to earn her initial graded win. The final time for the one-mile dirt test was 1:34.56.

Gary and Mary West’s Keep the Peace held on for second under Julien Leparoux, with Secret Gypsy and Elvis Trujillo finishing another 3 3/4 lengths back in third.

Going off as the 7-1 fifth choice in a field of six, Acoma returned $17.80, $6.40, and $4. The bay filly won her third consecutive race, as she broke her maiden in her second career start April 18 on the Keeneland Polytrack going 1 1/16 miles, and then won in the slop at the same distance May 11 in allowance company at Churchill Downs.

Acoma is a Kentucky homebred racing for Helen Alexander and Helen Groves. She is out of the Danzig mare Aurora.

Secret Gypsy had it fairly easy on the lead throug three-quarters, posting fractions of :23.31, :46.22 and 1:11.10. Keep the Peace stalked the pace the whole way, while Temper Temper and Alina were close up.

Secret Gypsy still had a narrow lead entering the top of the lane, but was about to be challenged. Keep the Peace outdueled the pacesetter inside the eighth-pole and seemed to be streaking toward a victory. But coming three-wide, Acoma was also rallying willingly, and she took over with less than a half-furlong remaining.

“Right outside the eighth pole I thought I had some good momentum on ‘em,” Albarado said. “I was closing ground fast.  With the distance from that point to the wire, I thought I had a shot to get to ‘em. When she ran by (Keep the Peace), she just kept extending herself. It was a great race from her.”

“She’s always been a beautiful filly," said Carroll, who didn't race Acoma as a 2-year-old because of a minor injury. "The best thing that happened to her last year is that we had to give her time. Hopefully she just keeps on improving.”

Alina was a neck back of Secret Gypsy for fourth, followed by Tiz to Dream and Temper Temper. Pious Ashley was scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)