Innovative Idea yielded the early lead but regained top status when it mattered most to win the $100,000 Groupie Doll Stakes (gr. III) by a half-length over 28-1 longshot Emmajestic Aug. 6 at Ellis Park.
The Godolphin Racing homebred secured the first stakes win of her career in her previous start, the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows, and continued her good form Saturday to notch her first graded stakes score.
Rider Marlon St. Julien, who was aboard Innovative Idea after program rider Jon Court moved to also-eligible Improv when she made the field, hustled the 4-year-old Bernardini filly out of the inside gate in Ellis Park’s unique 1 1/2-turn configuration for mile races. After briefly leading the field of 11 fillies and mares, Innovative Idea settled into second behind early leader Fioretti.
Innovative Idea thrived in the stalking position, as Fioretti posted a quarter-mile in :23.11 and a half-mile in :45.95. Longshot Fioretti opened a two-length advantage at the quarter-pole through six furlongs in 1:10.49, but just as the hopes of Fioretti's connections were raised, Innovative Idea launched her move.
Innovative Idea, who drifted wide off the final turn, straightened and seized the lead in midstretch, then had enough to hold off Emmajestic, who had rallied from eighth. Sophie Doyle aboard Emmajestic lodged an objection, claiming interference near the quarter pole, but the stewards disagreed.
"It was an awesome pickup," St. Julien said. "The last time I rode (with) these silks was in the Kentucky Derby 16 years ago (aboard Curule, seventh). I guess it was meant to happen. I was fortunate enough to get the mount."
Winning trainer Eoin Harty said Innovative Idea has progressed.
"She ran a very similar race at Prairie Meadows. This win was huge," Harty said. "She was stakes-placed at 3 and now is a multiple stakes winner and a graded stakes winner at 4. That does just wonders for the family and everybody concerned."
Agave Racing Stable’s Emmajestic held second to earn her first stakes placing. Ahh Chocolate, a grade II winner and the 3-2 favorite, finished third.
Innovative Idea returned $14.80, $8.40, and $4.20 across the board. Emmajestic paid $26.60 and $8.60 to place and show. Stoneway Farm’s Ahh Chocolate returned $2.80 to show.
Kentucky-bred Innovative Idea is out of two-time grade II winner Golden Velvet, by Seeking the Gold.