Friendly Michelle's Grit Shows in La Troienne

(from Churchill Downs report)
Front-running Friendly Michelle, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Artax owned by television producer Ed Friendly, came on again in the last sixteenth after dropping back to third to win the featured $112,200 La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies today at Churchill Downs.

"She really dug in. I thought she was beat," said winning trainer Bob Baffert. "These California horses do well here.

"The last time she ran, I sort of gave bad instructions, though she won anyway," he added. "We did a little something different with her and took her back, but she doesn't like dirt kicked in her face. So we just let her gut it out today."

Friendly Michelle, 2-1 second choice in the betting, dueled with Ender's Sister from the start of the 7 ½-furlong sprint, dropped back to third in mid-stretch as even-money favorite Bohemian Lady surged to the front on the outside of Ender's Sister. Friendly Michelle set early fractions of :21 3/5 and :44.

Jockey Alex Solis, aboard Friendly Michelle, switched to a left-handed whip in the final sixteenth and his mount responded courageously to come on again on the inside of her rials and win by a half-length. Her time of 1:28 1/5 narrowly missed Miss Lodi's track record of 1:28.

"Right when the other filly opened up a length on us, she (Friendly Michelle) got intimidated, so I waved the whip at her left-handed for encouragement and she got pedaling," Solis said. "She's a nice filly and showed it today."

Ender's Sister, with Pat Day, held on well to be second, a head in front of Bohemian Lady, with Pick of the Pack fourth in the field of seven fillies.

"That was a tough beat," said Pat Day, who rode Ender's Sister. "I was clocking the winner all the way around there. Coming off the turn, I felt like I had her. I was going to sit and wait and (Bohemian Lady) came up on the outside and I felt like I needed to go. She was working hard and finally got on by (Bohemian Lady) and I looked over and here came Alex (Solis) down on the fence. He had conserved enough to make a final lunge."

Friendly Michelle paid $6.80, $3.80 and $2.60 and earned $69,564 with her fourth victory in six starts. She won the Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita in late March.

Ender's Sister returned $4.20 and $2.60. Bohemian Lady, ridden by Edgar Prado, was $2.20 to show. The exacta was worth $30.60.

(Chart, Equibase)