Fiery Pursuit prevails by a diminishing head in the Louisville Breeders' Cup Stakes.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Fiery Pursuit prevails by a diminishing head in the Louisville Breeders' Cup Stakes.
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Jeffrey Snyder

Fiery Pursuit Sets Winning Pace in Louisville BC

Fiery Pursuit shot to the lead and kept on rolling, holding off a hard-charging Asi Siempre by a head in the $328,200 Louisville Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) Friday over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.

The longest shot in the field at 11-1, Fiery Pursuit was generous to her backers on a cloudy afternoon in Kentucky. Indian Vale, the 6-5 favorite was fourth.

An Overbrook Farm homebred, Fiery Pursuit was ridden by Calvin Borel -- for his third win on the day -- and is trained by D. Wayne Lukas. The 4-year-old daughter of Carson City covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.11.

“I told Calvin that we’re probably overmatched in here and that he better send her to the front and keep her there as long as he can," Lukas said. "She ran a tremendous race. I think he picked her up the last 100 yards and carried her. This was a quantum leap for her.”

The Louisville Breeders' Cup marked Fiery Pursuit's first added-money victory. She came into the race off a third-place finish in the April 7 Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

The second betting choice for the Louisville Breeders' Cup was Asi Siempre, winner of the recent Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland and fourth in last fall's Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill after being disqualified from second.

Asi Siempre, ridden by Garrett Gomez, came charging from the outside to challenge Fiery Pursuit in stretch Friday, but the latter dug in and fought back with both right and left-handed urging from Borel. Baghdaria, Rafael Bejarano aboard, finished only three-quarters of a length behind Asi Siempre in third.

"Once she made the lead, she settled for me," Borel said. "The favorite (Indian Vale) came up to us, and I shook up my filly and she took off again. The others were coming, and she jumped the gate tracks at the sixteenth pole, and that threw her off stride. But she dug in and kept going to the wire.”

“I just couldn’t get to (Fiery Pursuit)," Gomez said of Asi Siempre's stretch effort. "I couldn’t get there. I thought I could; I thought I would. But her head kept coming up and I just couldn’t get there.”

Following Indian Vale under the wire were Delicate Dynamite and Lemons Forever, who won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill two years ago.

“She was well-placed and I was holding her together up there," Velazquez said of Indian Vale. "Then I asked her for it and she couldn’t give me anything. She couldn’t get hold of the track. She was slipping and sliding all over the place and we just fell out of it.”

Fiery Pursuit, who set moderate early fractions of :23.77 and :47.84, has captured five of her 12 career races. The victory was worth $202,069 and increased Fiery Pursuit’s career earnings to $331,046.

The winner paid $25.60, $7.80 and $4.40. Asi Siempre returned $4 and $3, while Baghdaria, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was another three-quarters of a length back in third and returned $4.60 to show.

Sugar Shake scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)