LOUISVILLE, KY – Merriebelle Stable’s Argentinian-bred mare Blue Prize made a bold move in the far turn and chased down a loose-on-the-lead Farrell in mid-stretch to take Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs. The Fleur de Lis was race 7 on the Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser program.
The Fleur de Lis is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Blue Prize receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Distaff at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking without incident from post 3 under Jose Ortiz as the 2-1 favorite, Blue Prize was able to settle along the rail in fourth while Farrell posted uncontested fractions of :23.97, :48.57, and 1:12.45. Midway through the far turn, Ortiz urged Blue Prize to make her move and swung her out into the 4-path alongside Awestruck. Straightening for the drive to the wire, Blue Prize began cutting into Farrell’s lead and caught her with a furlong remaining. Though Farrell dug in gamely, she was no match for the Ignacio Correas IV trainee. Continuing to pull away in the final stages, Blue Prize crossed the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front in a final time of 1:50.02 for the 1 1/8-mile main track event.
“This horse is very tactical,” Ortiz said. “I let her save ground and when we started asking her to go she just took off. I’m very happy with her effort tonight and I know she’ll do well in the future.”
Southern California shipper Mopotism was able to split horses in the stretch to take third over a fading Awestruck, while Song of Spring necked out Valadorna for fifth. Completing the order of finish, Fuhriously Kissed was seventh, Streamline eighth, and Apologynotaccepted ninth.
Blue Prize’s win was her second American graded stakes score, including the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap here last November, and third overall after taking the Group 1 Seleccion on October 10, 2016, in her native country. The 5-year-old daughter of Pure Prize improved her overall record to 14-5-7-1 with career earnings of $605,233.
“This filly absolutely loves it here at Churchill Downs, as do I,” Correas said. “It was a great race from her and it sets her up for a good year with the Breeders’ Cup back here in November. She’s improved since we got her form Argentina and I think she’s just getting better.”
Blue Prize returned $6.60 to win, $4.40 to place, and $3 to show. Farrell brought back $7.60 to place and $5.80 to show, while Mopotism paid $4.20 to show.