Challenged from all sides in deep stretch, determined front-runner Two Trail Sioux refused to give way, holding on for a one-length win in the $330,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Ridden by Pat Day, Two Trail Sioux led by 3 1/2 lengths on the backstretch after turning in early fractions of :23 1/5 and :46 3/5. She appeared to be in danger of being swallowed up in the stretch, however, as Storm's Darling, Rare Gift, and La Reason all closed in at the top of the stretch. But under right-handed urging, Two Trail Sioux stubbornly battled on to win in a time of 1:48 2/5 for the 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares.
The victory by Day, the all-time win leader at Churchill Downs, was his first stakes triumph since he returned to competition in May after recovering from hip surgery.
"If you get a victory period it feels good," said Day, "but to get a win in a race of this magnitude on a day like today it's special, very special."
Storm's Darling, ridden by Eddie Martin. Jr., nipped Rare Gift and Edgar Prado for second by a head. It was a neck back to La Reason.
Shadow Cast, the 7-5 choice in the field of seven who was seeking a repeat of her rousing come-from-behind Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) victory on the Churchill sod May 6, was never involved, closing from far back to finish fifth.
"I thought the filly in front (Two Trail Sioux) was going quick enough," said Robby Albarado, who rode the favorite. "We had a shot to get to her. She had to slow up some and she did, but I just couldn't get to 'em. My filly didn't fire. No real excuses."
The second favorite, grade I winner Island Sand, lost all chance after breaking in the air, finishing sixth. Outsider Quick Temper was last.
Two Trail Sioux, a 4-year-old Indian Charlie
filly, broke well from her inside post to dictate the pace.
The Wally Dollase-trained Kentucky-bred had a five-race winning streak snapped when she ran eighth in the Louisville, beaten by 19 3/4 lengths after breaking poorly and being forced to steady. She has a 6-2-1 record in 10 lifetime starts for owners John D. Gunther and Don Winton, with earnings of $424,960. She nearly doubled her bankroll with Saturday's $204,600 winning purse.
The third choice in the field, she paid $9.80, $6, and $4.60. Storm's Darling returned $8.80 and $4.80. Rare Gift's show was $4.60.
Totier Creek Farm bred the winner, who is from the Quiet American
mare Quiet Trail.