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LOUISVILLE, KY – Buff Bradley and Carl Hurst’s homebred Divine Queen re-rallied on the rail to scoot past Ascot Day and win Saturday’s $125,000 Open Mind Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from the rail under Calvin Borel as the 5/2 second choice, Divine Queen became part of a three-wide front-running wall that included Ascot Day on the outside and Headland sandwiched in the midde. The trio raced heads apart down the backside and through the far turn while posting fractions of :22.37 and :45.65.
Off the far turn, Ascot Day took the lead and began to pull away, but Borel gave Divine Queen the cue and she responded gamely. Digging in along the rail, Divine Queen powered past Ascot Day before drawing off late. The Bradley trainee won the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track in a final time of 1:09.40.
“I had a ton of horse every step of the way,” Borel said. “I thought we’d go a little faster early, but they didn’t – :22 and change and :46. That was awesome because she can go that fast any day. We had her freshened up a little bit. I gave her a good breather around the turn and (Ascot Day) opened up about a 1/2-length. When I squeezed on her, she just came home.”
The beaten Ascot Day faded to be 2 3/4 lengths behind in second, while Upset Brewing came on late to get third. The 2/1 favorite Awestruck finished fourth ahead of Honey Bunny, while Headland faded in the stretch to complete the order of finish. Meadow Dance and America’s Tale were scratched.
Divine Queen’s win was her second in her past three starts, having taken a mile-long allowance event here on June 22. The 4-year-old daughter of Divine Park improved her career mark to 17-6-2-0 with $323,814 earned.
“A homebred, it’s really nice to see them run big and to do it here at Churchill,” Bradley said. “Her whole family, they’re runners. It’s nice to see her get her second stakes win here (following the 2018 Dogwood). The horse ran big last time and I think the cutback to 3/4 (of a mile) sure didn’t hurt her any. I thought she might be sharp, but we didn’t know what everybody else was going to do. Calvin sat chilly on her because he knew he had a bunch of horse. She got passed by two horses coming out of the turn, but once he sat down on her, she re-engaged. She’s got a big heart. She’s a trier, for sure.”
Divine Queen returned $7.60 to win, $4 to place, and $3.40 to show. Ascot Day brought back $7 to place and $4.20 to show, while Upset Brewing paid $4.60 to show.
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