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Gary and Mary West’s homebred filly West Sunset led from start to finish in Sunday’s 11th running of the $200,000 Rags to Riches (Listed) at Churchill Downs and easily defeated stablemate Gin Gin by 6 ¾ lengths. Odds-on 1-9 favorite V V’s Dream was another 2 ¾ lengths back in third.
Ridden by Flavien Prat and trained by Brad Cox, West Sunset ran 1 1/16 miles on “sloppy” dirt in 1:46.31 while making her two-turn debut. Previously, she broke her maiden by a neck while running six furlongs at Churchill Downs in her Sept. 16 debut.
Breaking from post 4 in the compact field of five 2-year-old fillies, West Sunset was fastest out of the gate and was able to dictate a measured pace – quarter-mile splits of :24.23, :48.99 and 1:13.52 – without any pressure. Down the backstretch, Candy Landy was about two lengths back of the leader with Gin Gin and V V’s Dream, who walked out of the starting gate, another length behind in third and fourth, respectively.
Into the far turn, Candy Landy, Gin Gin and V V’s Dream attempted to close into West Sunset’s advantage but she had plenty of run left and spurted 5 ½ lengths clear at the top of the stretch to widen her margin through the finish.
“It always felt like I had a lot of horse beneath me,” Prat said. “She was pretty straightforward when she left the gate, and I got her to relax a little bit on the lead. Turning for home I was confident she’d have enough left in the tank to continue strong.”
V V’s Dream, who walked out of the starting gate as the heavy 0.19-1 favorite after a September win in the Pocahontas (Grade II) and a second to Candied in the Alcibiades (GI) at Keeneland 23 days ago, raced three-wide throughout and lacked a closing kick down the homestretch. V V’s Dream was pre-entered in Friday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Santa Anita and would have been one of the favorites behind divisional leader Tamara, but her connections opted to stay in Kentucky for Sunday’s Rags to Riches.
West Sunset, at odds of 7-1, paid $17.72, $6.86 and $2.36. Gin Gin, with Florent Geroux aboard at 9-1, returned $9.12 and $2.66. V V’s Dream, with Brian Hernandez Jr. up, paid $2.10. Candy Landy was fourth and Floored was last of five. Shimmering Allure and Twirling Good Time were scratched.
Sunday’s payday was worth $124,000 and West Sunset improved her record to 2-2-0-0—$193,000. She also collected 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks as the Rags to Riches was added to the prep season schedule for the first time. The top five finishers earned points on a scale of 10-5-3-2-1.
“Hopefully with some more seasoning this is a filly we can dream running in the Kentucky Oaks,” Cox said.
By West Coast, West Sunset is a Kentucky-bred bay filly out of the Vindication mare Vindicated Ghost.
Sunday’s race is named in honor of Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s 2007 Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner. Six years ago, Michael Dubb and Monomoy Stables’ Monomoy Girl cruised to a 6 ½-length score in the Rags to Riches prior to her triumph in the 2018 Kentucky Oaks.
Flavien Prat (jockey, West Sunset, winner): “It always felt like I had a lot of horse beneath me. She was pretty straightforward when she left the gate and I got her to relax a little bit on the lead. Turning for home I was confident she’d have enough left in the tank to continue strong.”
Brad Cox (trainer, West Sunset, winner, Gin Gin, runner-up): “It was a good effort from both fillies. (West Sunset) was a little anxious in the paddock but hopefully that will get better the more mature she gets. She broke really well and Flavien (Prat) got her to relax a little bit on the backside which helped her. I’m glad I ran her in this spot. I almost shipped her to Aqueduct to run in a stakes there next week. Hopefully with some more seasoning this is a filly we can dream running in the Kentucky Oaks.”
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