Front-running Bayou's Lassie dug deep to stubbornly hold off the surging J'ray by a head in Saturday's $100,000 Frances A. Genter (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies to earn her fourth win in five starts on the Calder turf course, including three stakes.
The daughter of Outflanker, trained by Stanley Gold for owner/breeder Jacks or Better Farm Inc., has made all eight of her career starts at Calder, winning six. The win was her first in a graded stakes.
Under Elvis Trujillo, Bayou's Lassie was facing a full field of mostly East Coast invaders, including J'ray, the 19-10 favorite ridden by John Velazquez. Bayou's Lassie took the lead from outsider Prospect of Love shortly after the start and opened up a two-length advantage midway through the 7 1/2-furlong test over a good course. She remained in control well into the stretch run. But J'ray, saving ground all the way, threaded her way into contention along the hedge and gave a gritty effort approaching the wire to just miss. After setting fractions of :23 1/5 and :46 1/5, Bayou's Lassie finished in a time of 1:29 1/5.
“This filly is very aggressive," said Trujillo, who earned his third victory on the Calder Grand Slam III card Saturday. "Actually, it’s hard to keep her off of the lead. She runs better when she gets the lead anyway, so you just have to try and control her speed so she has something left in the stretch. I rated her as much as I could and then turned her loose down the lane. She digs in hard when she is challenged in the stretch.”
Sent off as the second choice in a field reduced to 11 by the scratch of Mia's Reflection at the gate, Bayou's Lassie paid $8, $3.60, and $2.60, combining with J'ray ($3, $2.60) for a $23.80 exacta. Amansara, ridden by Eibar Coa, was $3.20 to show, finishing one length behind.
The Florida-bred Bayou's Lassie earned $60,000 for the victory, pushing her bankroll to $310,400. The dark bay, who is out of the Bayou Herbert mare Bayou Plans, was coming off a second-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) when defeated by one length by grade I winner Amorama after taking the lead in the stretch. Bayou's Lassie won the Calder Oaks and Judy's Red Shoes on the Calder turf prior to that.
“I wasn’t sure how she would do turning back in distance from her last race, but she handled it," Gold said. "I couldn’t tell whether she won it or not from where I was. I was just hoping. Naturally, we were pleased with her last race, finishing second against a grade I winner.
"She became my first stakes winner on my own when she won (Judy’s Red Shoes) except for a little one in Illinois back in the 70's, and now it’s my first graded stakes win."
Gold said he worked as assistant for Jim Hatchett with Jacks or Better horses for seven years, but moved to Ocala a couple years ago.
"When they offered me the chance to come back and run the stable, I took it. With this win in a graded stakes, she ought to be able to get in the Sunshine Millions (Filly & Mare Turf at Gulfstream on Jan. 27).”
Silver Sider finished fourth, followed by Rasta Farian, Miss Shop, Dancing Band, Good Intentions, Prospect of Love, Scarlett's Pride, and Peak Maria's Way.
Saoirse Cat, Captive Melody, Calla Lily, and Mohegan Sky were also scratched.