LOUISVILLE, KY – Calumet Farm’s homebred English Affair fought through traffic issues in the stretch but was still able to win her first career graded event in Thursday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from post 5 under Corey Lanerie at 3-1 odds, English Affair was content to sit near the rear while Unbridled Escape posted opening fractions of :24.79, :50.62, and 1:16.91. English Affair began advancing heading into the far turn but had to steady near the 5/16 pole and was forced to wait for an opening. Shifting out a bit in the stretch, English Affair finally found room and made a steady charge to the front. Sweeping past Amboseli in the final jumps, English Affair crossed with a 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:54.26 for the 9-furlong event over the yielding turf course.
“She handled things perfectly today,” Lanerie said. “I was just the passenger. We had a great trip the entire way around the track, and when I asked for her best stuff, she dug in and finished really well. I took her back early to settle and waited for a spot to open.”
The 3/2 favorite I Remember Mama briefly held the lead at the top of the stretch but was no match for the top pair and crossed a clear third. La Manta Gris made a failed bid for the lead and flattened to fourth late ahead of Coachwhip, who necked out fifth over Coco Channel. Completing the order of finish came Lipstick City, Bonnie Arch, a spent Unbridled Escape, and Space Cadet.
English Affair’s win was her first of the year and improved her overall record to 12-3-5-1. The 4-year-old daughter of English Channel, one of Calumet Farm’s leading stallions, has now earned $197,643 in her career.
“She’s a typical English Channel that is getting better with age,” Arnold said. “We’ve run her going a couple of different distances and it just shows her versatility. Today’s race came up and it was the perfect spot to run her in.”
English Affair returned $8 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3 to show. Amboseli brought back $6.80 to place and $3.80 to show, while I Remember Mama paid $2.60 to show.