The 3-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock (AUS) went winless in five starts following her maiden-breaking victory at Santa Anita in May, but under first-time jockey Kent Desormeaux, she provided the largest return of the day at odds of 30-1 with a victory in the $100,000 Autumn Miss Stakes (gr. IIIT).
Cover Song dueled to the wire late with heavy favorite Danilovna and prevailed by a nose. The two made contact in the stretch, as Cover Song angled out to find a clear lane outside of tiring runners, but Santa Anita stewards declined to make a change to the order of finish.
"I was watching the replay with Kent and let's just say that I thought the stewards made the right decision," winning trainer Carla Gaines said. "She's been training well, but we did come close to scratching her and running her down the (hillside turf course). I'm glad we decided to stay with our first choice."
Cover Song broke well from post 4, but dropped back to sixth after the first quarter in :22.89 set by four-time stakes winner Belvoir Bay. Belvoir Bay would not have it easy, however, as a rank Great Page pressured the frontrunner in the backstretch.
The half went in :45.83 and six furlongs in 1:09.47 as Great Page faded, and Belvoir Bay held a two-length advantage with a furlong to run, but the earlier pressure took its toll. Four horses passed Belvoir Bay late, led by Cover Song, who finished off the mile in 1:33.73. Barleysugar closed from ninth to finish third, a neck in front of Lady Valeur.
"She broke like a Quarter Horse," Desormeaux said of Cover Song's start. "I was fearful that I was going to be 20 (lengths) in front, but she made the lead and then checked herself into a nice rhythm. She carried me around the track very, very well."
Regarding the inquiry, Desormeaux felt he maintained his position.
"I thought I had a line chosen and (Danilovna) started pushing on us, so I thought, 'OK, if you're going to initiate contact, I'm gonna hold my ground.'" Desormeaux said. "I'm not even sure I left my line. I'll have to watch the replay, but it became a horse race at that point. My filly ran her heart out. I could feel her turning it on. She would not lose."
The winner paid $63.40, $20.80, and $9.40 across the board. Danilovna paid $4.20 and $2.80, and Barleysugar delivered $4.20 to show.
Cover Song was bred in Kentucky by Misty For Me Syndicate, out of the Galileo (IRE) mare Misty For Me, and now has a 2-0-3 record from eight starts, with $117,695 in earnings. She was a $450,000 purchase by Spendthrift out of the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.