Lyon Stables' Miss Fortunate closed strongest of all to defeat Sheer Luck and Whoopi Cat in an exciting finish to the $175,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at Turfway Park Saturday.
Ridden by Larry Melancon for trainer Bill Mott, the 5-year-old Deputy Minister mare was all out in deep stretch to register a half-length win over the equally determined closer Sheer Luck, with Calvin Borel aboard. Whoopi Cat, who forged to the lead on the outside for Gary Stevens inside the eighth pole, settled for third, another neck behind.
"I knew I had horse all the way," said Melancon. "When I called on her, she was there. Billy really had her ready."
The final time for the 1 1/6-mile event was 1:44 2/5.
Bohemian Lady, the 17-10 favorite in the field of nine, enjoyed a stalking trip for Rafael Bejarano, but the Todd Pletcher pupil faded to sixth, beaten by more than eight lengths.
"She didn't like the dirt in her face and started jumping around," Bejarano said. "She started to close strongly at the three-eighths pole but then started jumping around again."
Miss Fortunate, breaking from the rail, raced in sixth along the inside for Melancon until angled out on the far turn to launch her three-wide bid. She challenged the leaders in mid-stretch and proved best over the willing Sheer Luck.
Tempus Fugit set a moderate pace of :23 2/5 and :47 before 48-1 Tango for Tips forced her way to the front on the final turn after six furlongs in 1:12 2/5. Both faded quickly as Whoopi Cat hit the front in the stretch and just failed to last.
Miss Fortunate's seventh win in 23 lifetime starts was worth $108,500 and pushed her career earnings to $480,095. The Kentucky-bred dark bay mare was coming off a fourth-place finish behind Dream of Summer in the Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) at Ellis Park Aug. 20, her first start in nearly five months. She last won on the Aqueduct inner track in the Rare Treat in February.
Summerwind Farm bred the winner, who is out of the Secretariat mare Fantastic Ways.
The third choice paid $11, $5.80, and $4. Sheer Luck, switching to the Polytrack after making her last nine starts on grass, returned $10.60 and $6.40 for a $71.80 exacta. Whoopi Cat was $6.60.
"The winner got through and we had to go around her, but we had a running start so there are no excuses," said Borel of the runner-up. "The filly ran a bang-up race and now she's got blacktype, which is also sweet. If we had another hundred yards, we would have won. She's really a grass horse, and she ran a fantastic race."
My Ro, Josh's Madelyn, Bohemian Lady, Quick Temper, Tempus Fugit, and Tango for Tips followed. Winning Season scratched.