Rusty Arnold contemplated shipping Miss Kentucky out of town for her next stakes try. Instead, the venerable trainer opted to keep the hometown girl in her own backyard—and she responded by delivering her most impressive outing yet.
Preston Madden's homebred Miss Kentucky got into her rhythm down the backstretch and never looked back as she captured the $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes (G3) over Treble at Churchill Downs May 26, her first graded stakes score in 12 career starts.
Though Arnold considered sending the daughter of Blame to Prairie Meadows this week, her most recent workout beneath the Twin Spires May 20 was solid enough that Arnold figured running the filly out of her own stall was the best path toward producing her best self. The 4-year-old did not disappoint as she rated to the outside of favorite Golden Mischief as 42-1 longshot Brave Daisey ran out to an opening quarter mile in :21.28, then took over for good just before the half-mile mark en route to a three-quarter length score.
"I have to give a lot of credit to (assistant trainer) Jack (Bohannon)," said Arnold, who won his eighth race from 19 starters at the Churchill Downs spring meet. "She used to fold in the stretch, but he worked with her a lot and she's really improved. This is a big step up for her.
"Jack worked her here Monday (four furlongs in :48), and he loved the way she went. So we said what the heck, let's stay home and let her run on her home track. I'm glad it worked out well."
Miss Kentucky's early speed is her best weapon, as she showed when she bested Treble by a neck in their prior meeting—a six-furlong allowance test over the Louisville oval April 28.
Similar to that outing, jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. let the bay distaffer track the pace early before unleashing her winning pounce. When Brave Daisey dropped out of the running after that quick opening quarter, Miss Kentucky and 1-2 favorite Golden Mischief moved side by side through a half-mile in :44.46. Miss Kentucky held her ground despite some contact around the far turn, then turned back a surge from Treble in the final sixteenth.
"She's a filly that when you let her get into her rhythm, she shows how good she is," Hernandez said. "(Brave Daisey) was on the lead, but we weren't really worried about her. Once I asked her at the top of the lane, she really kicked away nicely."
Sent off at 7-2 odds, Miss Kentucky covered the six furlongs in 1:10.35 over a track rated fast. Treble was 1 3/4 lengths clear of Golden Domer for place money, with Pinch Hit, Golden Mischief, and Brave Daisey completing the order of finish in the six-horse field.
"It looked like they went a little quick early," said trainer Brad Cox, who saddled Pinch Hit and Golden Mischief. "I know the track's fast, but that's really not (Golden Mischief's) thing. She doesn't want to be that close to that hot of a pace, and being down on the inside probably wasn't her thing, either. She ran fifth in a sixth-horse field at 1-to-2, so obviously it's disappointing. But hopefully she can regroup from it, and we can pick a spot later in the summer and take another swing."
Video: Winning Colors S. (G3)