The Pocahontas, a one-mile event for juvenile fillies, was the second of two graded stakes on Churchill’s opening day card.
It was the third victory in as many starts for Pure Clan, who is trained by Robert Holthus. The chestnut filly, bred in Kentucky, went off at odds of more than 10-1.
A hotly contested opening quarter went to Steamy Ridge in :22.52, with longshot Kadira following closely to the outside. Cape Discovery and betting favorite Anachini were also near the lead.
Kadira, guided by Larry Melancon, gained the front at the half-mile pole, which went in :45.96. Pure Clan was 12th at that point.
By the time they reached the top of the final turn, Authenicat went five-wide and made the lead, while Anachini, Six Pack Sammy, and Sky Mom were also in contention.
But Pure Clan, who bobbled at the start of the race, found another gear, began circling horses under Julien Leparoux, and caught front-running Authenicat at the sixteenth pole. The daughter of Pure Prize drew clear and won by 1 1/4 lengths. The final time was 1:38.30.
Vinery Stables' Authenicat was one length in front of Sky Mom for second. Six Pack Sammy was fourth. Pure Clan paid $22.60, $11.20, and $6.80. The exacta (9-11) was worth $150.40 with 8-1 Authenicat. The trifecta (9-11-6) returned $592.40.
Leparoux, who was aboard Court Vision in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) one race prior, won both graded stakes on the Churchill card.
“It was kind of the same race as the other one (Iroquois), except this one I came outside, and the other one I came on the rail," Leparoux said. "It was the same kind of race. It feels good to win. When you win one stakes race it’s nice, but two is great.”
Out of General Assembly mare Gather the Clan, Pure Clan started her career on the turf, winning a maiden special weight at Ellis Park Aug. 26, then moving to the Keeneland grass, where she captured an allowance by 1 3/4 lengths Oct. 10.
“She had always trained well on the dirt, so we thought she could run on the dirt,” Holthus said. “I felt pretty good the whole way through. She was always coming forward. She had to go awful wide at the head of stretch, but she came on, got the job done.”