Rich in Spirit Leaves Little Doubt in Locust Grove

Heavily favored Rich in Spirit, ridden by Mark Guidry, wore down the pace-setting Cape Hope in the stretch and drew away to a 1 ½-length victory in Saturday's $165,450 Locust Grove Handicap (gr. III) for fillies and mares on the turf at Churchill Downs.

Winning for the third time in five races on the Churchill Downs turf, Rich in Spirit covered 1 1/8-miles on "good" turf in 1:50 and paid $3.40, $2.80 and $2.10. she carried high weight of 118 pounds. Cape Hope, who set a slow pace under John McKee yet led by 2 ½ lengths in mid-stretch, settled for second and paid $10.80 and $5. Pyrana, ridden by apprentice Julien Leparoux, rallied late for third and paid $2.80.

Owned and bred by Leonard Lavin's Glen Hill Farm and trained by Tom Proctor, Rich in Spirit won her second stakes race at Churchill Downs and improved her career record to 6-4-1 in 15 races and boosted her earnings to $487,951. The 4-year-old daughter of Repriced was the 7-to-10 favorite in a field reduced to seven with the late scratch of Sweet Science. Rich in Spirit boasts a 3-2-0 in five races at Churchill Downs.

"She had these other fillies over a barrel today. She ran a great race, and Tom had her on target," said Guidry. "We just bided our time and turning for home I kind of asked her a little bit and she went on. I didn't have to really get to the bottom of her. She was more than willing."

In a race that was devoid of early speed, Cape Hope and McKee broke on top and led the field through slow early fractions of :25.40 for the quarter, :50.67 to the half-mile and six furlongs in 1:14.37. Rich in Spirit broke from the outside post and stalked the leader four-wide while longshot Story's Image tracked the leader from the rail. Cape Hope spurted away from the favorite on the far turn and opened a 2 ½-length lead in the stretch, but Guidry sent Rich in Spirit after the pace setter in upper stretch, caught Cape Hope in the final yards and easily drew clear near the wire.

"This race today, I couldn't have told the jockey how to ride it," said Proctor. "This was one where everybody wanted to be last (in the early running). I'm glad to win one, I've been second and third in these stakes all meet."

"We got away with some soft fractions and my filly dug in toward the end," said McKee of Cape Hope. "We were just no match for the winner today."

Anegada finished fourth with Dynamist, More Than Promised and Story's Image following. Sweet Science scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)