Ever Elusive's Late Surge Lands Winning Colors

Favored Ever Elusive, hard ridden by Rafael Bejarano, angled six-wide at the top of the lane and caught 50-1 shot Malibu Mint in the final yards to notch a neck victory in Saturday's $110,200 Winning Colors for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.

The daughter of Forestry, trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Padua Stables, covered the six furlongs over a "fast" track in 1:09.14 and paid $5.80, $3.80 and $3.20. Malibu Mint, with apprentice jockey Josue' Arce aboard, led deep into the stretch, won the photo for the place and paid $29.20 and $10.40. Ebony Breeze, with John Jacinto up, closed well on the outside to finish a nose back and paid $5.40.

The 19-10 choice in the field of eight after finishing third last out to Dubai Escapade in the Madison (gr. II) at Keeneland, Ever Elusive earned $66,275 to increase her lifetime bankroll to $200,242. The victory was her fifth in 10 lifetime starts. She carried 118 pounds, four less than the second and third-place finishers.

The win gave Pletcher his fourth stakes victory of the meet.

Bejarano settled Ever Elusive, sluggish at the start from her inside post, into fourth place along the rail in the early going as Hot Storm and Reunited dueled for the lead through blistering fractions of :21.17 for the first quarter and :44.33 to the half-mile. Malibu Mint tracked the leaders in third and made a quick move under Arce' on the turn to grab the lead from the tiring leaders, while Bejarano steered Ever Elusive to the outside to launch her six-wide rally. Malibu Mint held a narrow advantage through the stretch until Ever Elusive caught her with a sixteenth of a mile to go, and the winner held her stubborn rival safe to the wire. Ebony Breeze closed strongly on the outside and just missed the runner-up spot.

"When I saw (Malibu Mint) pass me from the outside, I just let her go," said Bejarano of Ever Elusive. "I was pretty clear at the quarter pole, and when I asked my horse, she came really strong. She finished good."

John and Martha Jane Mulholland bred the dark bay filly, who is out Shivering Six, by Saratoga Six, in Kentucky.

(Chart, Equibase)