Lady Tak Proves She's Back in Winning Groove

(from Churchill Downs report)
Lady Tak, ridden by Shane Sellers, surged to the lead on the turn and held off a stretch challenge by Put Me In to score a three-quarters of a length victory in Saturday's first running of the $108,600 Winning Colors Handicap for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.

The 4-year-old daughter of Mutakddim, winning for the eighth time in 14 starts, covered the six furlongs in an impressive 1:08 4/5 and paid $3.00, $2.80 and $2.10. Under top weight of 122 pounds, tt was the fastest six-furlong clocking of the Churchill spring meet.

Put Me In, with Robby Albarado aboard, failed to catch the winner after a prolonged stretch challenge and paid $5.40 and $2.40. Ebony Breeze, with Cornelio Velasquez up, finished 1 ΒΌ-lengths back in third and paid $2.20.

Owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and trained by Steve Asmussen, Lady Tak earned $67,332 to increase her lifetime bankroll to $814,602. The win was her fourth in stakes company and her second in three starts in 2004. The chestnut filly is unbeaten in five starts at six furlongs.

Surf N Sand dueled with Lady Tak for the early lead through fractions of :21 2/5 for the quarter-mile and a quick :44 for the half-mile. As the field moved around the far turn, Surf N Sand fell back as Lady Tak took command and maintained her advantage through the stretch under moderate urging from Sellers.

"She's just a great mare to ride," Sellers said. "She's very fast and she just makes your job easy. I wanted to be off the fence, I thought the inside was bad, and right here (in midstretch) I took her off the fence again and she hit another gear."

The stakes victory was the second of the meet for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Asmussen and Sellers. The trio had teamed earlier to win the Three Chimneys Juvenile with Lunarpal on Kentucky Derby Day. Asmussen collected his ninth Churchill stakes victory.

"Put Me In ran a very good race," he said. "You know they go eight-and-four to beat her. But the last hundred yards she wasn't making up any ground on her (Lady Tak), so I think we're back where we need to be."

(Chart, Equibase)