Soto, right, holds off Ten Cents A Shine to win the the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Soto, right, holds off Ten Cents A Shine to win the the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

AP/Garry Jones

Churchill Race Report (Cont.)

Golden Gal

As the victories pile up, the distances get longer, and the margins of victory remain gobs of daylight, it's time to start getting excited about precocious juveniles. My Boston Gal, by Boston Harbor out of the Forty Niner mare Western League, has done nothing wrong in three starts, and jockey Calvin Borel said she's still got plenty to learn. It's time to get excited.

My Boston Gal ran to her 1-2 odds in the 1 1/16-mile $219,600 Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) Nov. 30, defeating six foes in 1:45 flat for J. Chester Porter's Stoneledge Racing Stable, Phil Milner, and Randy Bloch. She was bred by W.T. Young's Overbrook Farm.

Borel rated his charge in fourth position early behind Jodys Deelite, My Trusty Cat, and Star of Atticus. Trainer Carl Nafzger instructed his rider to ease her back off the break and come from behind. But the star of the show made things a little tricky. "She'd never been two turns, and she got confused," Borel said. "She was on the wrong lead going around the first turn. I eased off her and she went fine, but then she got to looking around at the gates around the second turn."

It didn't matter much. When My Boston Gal made her move, the leaders looked like they were standing still. The only potential threat was Belle of Perintown, who Mark Guidry had following the favorite around the curve. But that one flattened out in the stretch, and My Boston Gal won it by 31/4 lengths with Holiday Lady and My Trusty Cat following. "She won, but she's a better filly than she showed today," Borel said. "She'll learn." Nafzger, who has already gone south to set up his stable for winter, was winning the Golden Rod for the second consecutive time, after Belterra's win last year.

Soto Far So Good

An hour later the boys got to strut their stuff in the $231,200 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) over the same distance. A dozen lined up, and 2-1 favorite Cat Genius, from the outside gate, quickly cleared the field, racing ahead of Champali, Domestic Dispute, and Midway Road up the backstretch through splits of :23.06 and :46.05. Although his lead widened to three lengths, the prompt fractions would take their toll, and Bob Baffert's Domestic Dispute grabbed the front on the second turn.

By now, the cavalry charge had started from the back, however, and at the top of the lane it seemed the entire field lined up to decide the outcome. From farthest outside emerged Ten Cents a Shine and Soto, the latter a Dehere colt out of the Crafty Prospector mare Subtle Fragrance trained by Michael Dickinson. Those two battled gamely down the stretch, with Soto proving a length quicker in 1:44.67. Soto is now undefeated in three starts, and has earned $192,964 for German Baron George von Ullman's Gallop LLC. He was bred in Kentucky by Domino Stud of Lexington.

"The Baron, his wife, and his mother have the oldest and most famous stud farm in Germany, and have won the German Derby 17 times," said Dickinson. "This is the first horse they've had in training in America. I wanted to go to the Breeders' Cup, but he thought he needed more time. He's easy to train, and distance is not a problem. I don't know what the plans are, I just do what I'm told," Dickinson said with a merry glint in his eye. Hmmm. A win over the Churchill strip. Distance not a problem. Undefeated. You make the call. b

Spires Notebook
Jockey Pat Day ran away with the jockey title for the meet, which closed Nov. 30. Apprentice John McKee finished second...Kenny McPeek took the training crown, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey were top owners for a record sixth straight Churchill meeting.

(Chart, Equibase)