Trainer Richard Mandella was hopeful Claiborne Farm's homebred Bendable would come back as strong as she was before she fractured a splint bone in October, but he wanted to see her do it on the racetrack.
Three-time graded winner Pretty N Cool looked like she had the six-furlong sprint under control turning for home. After stalking early leader Invested Prospect, the Bob Baffert trainee sprinted clear in the middle of the turn and held a two-length lead with a furlong to run, but was swallowed up late by Bendable on the outside and closer Coniah on the inside.
After she broke best on the outside in the five-horse field—while 4-5 favorite Pretty N Cool got out a step slow and moved up quickly to gain position—jockey Mike Smith settled Bendable two lengths behind the two frontrunners and began to encourage his filly midway through the turn. But Bendable's best running came late, as she blew by Pretty N Cool and held off an inside run by Coniah, who trailed the field early.
"She's matured a whole lot," Smith said. "She was so much more mature today and more relaxed. She was aggressive leaving the gate, but turned right off. She waited for me to call on her and when I did—man, she really jumped into the bridle."
Bendable finished the six furlongs off in 1:09.04. Invested Prospect tired to finish last after she ran the first quarter in :21.96. Pretty N Cool took over to run the first half-mile in :44.80.
It was the first graded win for Bendable in her second try. Her first graded attempt came at Keeneland in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2) Oct. 3, when she ran third behind multiple graded winners Irish Jasper and Stonetastic, but she exited the race with the splint bone fracture.
The Kentucky-bred out of the Arch mare Bend has hit the board in all six of her starts and has four wins, with $212,000 in earnings.
"We've got that healed up now and we're hoping she comes back the same as she went out," Mandella said earlier in the week. "But you never know until you race them."