The filly Rated Fiesty easily defeated males, scoring a front-running 4 1/2-length victory over Yogi’ssplashofgold in the $183,150 Kentucky Breeders’ Cup (gr. III) (VIDEO) for 2-year-olds on Thursday at sloppy Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, Rated Fiesty covered the five furlongs under rainy conditions on a sealed off-track in :57 2/5 for her second victory in two starts. The Florida-bred daughter of Exchange Rate won her debut April 21 at Keeneland.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Rated Fiesty returned $9.80, $5.80 and $3.80. Yogi’ssplashofgold, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, paid $7 and $4.40, while 7-5 favorite Ready’s Image, with John Velazquez up, was another three lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.
“We knew she was fast," Asmussen said. "The only question was how she would handle the mud. When she broke as well as she did, I knew she would handle the ground."
Rated Fiesty, on the inside, led the opening quarter mile by one length in :22 1/5 but was headed by Yogi’ssplashofgold as they completed the half-mile in :45. Rated Feisty kept battling, however, and kicked well clear in the stretch while kept to her task by Bridgmohan.
"She broke smartly," Bridgmohan said. "My job was easy thereafter because all I had to do was rate her along pretty nicely on the lead, which she managed to do herself. When they came to her, she found another gear, dug in – and the professional that she is – she went on and drew off from the other horses.”
The victory was worth $110,250 to owners Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and JMJ Racing Stable and increased Rated Fiesty’s career earnings to $137,530.
Rated Fiesty was the seventh filly to beat males in the 19 renewals of the Kentucky Breeders’ Cup. Island Escape won the first running in 1988 and other fillies to win the race include Astas Foxy Lady (1993), Miraloma (’95), Move (’96), Chilukki (’99), and Gold Mover (2000).
Asmussen won the race for a record fourth time and the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable of owner William Heiligbrodt, the breeder of Rated Fiesty, won the race for a record third time.
"She was a little later coming on than most of our 2-year-olds, and we thought we might hold her back," Asmussen said. "But she improved quickly, and Mr. Heligbrodt said we always wanted to run the fastest horse, so we supplemented her for $6,500. Because they all raced at Keeneland, there was no way of knowing what they would do in the mud.”
The Todd Pletcher trainee Ready's Image never challenged on the sloppy going.
“He just couldn’t get a hold of the track," said Velazquez. "He would run, then skip. Then he was skipping and skipping. He just couldn’t get it going.”
It was 5 1/2 lengths back to fourth-place finisher Wonderful Luck, who was followed by Preachin Man, Love Buzz, Cape of Storms, Little Springer and Alpha Tammy.
A race earlier, Roger Smith’s Smitty’s Sunshine broke on top leaving the gate and went to post a front-running 2 1/4-length score over Fan Time in the $111,100 Mamzelle Stakes on the grass.
Ridden by Robby Albarado and trained by Morris Nicks, Smitty’s Sunshine covered the five furlongs over a yielding turf course in :56.92. The victory was the fifth in succession for the 4-year-old Louisiana-bred daughter of Seeking a Home and made her 2-for-2 over the Churchill Downs turf.
In earning her fourth straight stakes victory, Smitty’s Sunshine paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.40. Fan Time, ridden by John Velazquez, returned $6 and $4.40 while Flying Circle, with Eddie Castro up, was another half-length back in third and returned $4 to show.
The $68,815 winner’s share increased Smitty’s Sunshine’s career earnings to $313,068 with six wins in 10 starts, all victories coming on the grass.