LOUISVILLE, KY – Carl Moore Management, LLC’s swift female sprinter Finley’sluckycharm broke alertly from the starting gate and never looked back to easily record her first graded stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000, Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs. She defeated her stablemate Mayla by 5 1/2 lengths, the largest margin of victory in 14 runnings of the race.
“She’s an awesome filly,” Moore said.
Finley’sluckycharm sprinted 6 furlongs over a fast main track in 1:09.07 en route to defeating six other fillies and mares. Brian Hernandez, Jr., rode the winner for trainer Bret Calhoun, who won the race for a record-extending fourth time. His previous success in the race came with champion female sprinter Dubai Majesty (2009-10) and Beat the Blues (2013). Calhoun now boasts an impressive Winning Colors record of 11-4-3-1 since 2009, while Finley’sluckycharm is now a perfect 5-for-5 at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from post six as the odds-on 1-5 favorite, Finley’sluckycharm broke fastest of all and led the field through the first 1/4 mile by 1 1/2 lengths in :22.13. She spurted clear approaching the far turn to widen her lead to 4 1/2 lengths after a 1/2 mile in :45.17, then comfortably held the field at bay down the stretch for the runaway win in hand under Hernandez, Jr.
“She does everything so well and has such good natural speed that I just have to stay out of her way,” Hernandez, Jr. said. “On the backstretch, one of the other riders smooched at their horse to go, and my horse heard it and started opening up.”
The victory was worth $60,760 and improved Finley’sluckycharm’s earnings to $344,468 with a record of 7-1-0 in nine starts.
This was her first graded stakes win and third stakes victory overall. Following a narrow half-length loss to Constellation in the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita in late December, Finley’sluckycharm made her first start of the year on April 29 at Churchill Downs and recorded a 3/4-length win over Athena in the $65,340 Roxelana Overnight Stakes. Prior to the La Brea, she won the $82,400 Dream Supreme Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs in late November by a jaw-dropping 8 1/2 lengths while clocking six furlongs in 1:08.58 – a stakes record for the 12-year-old race.
“She’s just so talented,” Hernandez, Jr. said. “I don’t know how we got beat in the La Brea in December.”
Mayla, also owned by Moore and trained by Calhoun, finished second at odds of 18-1 under Ricardo Santana, Jr. Sweetgrass, ridden by James Graham, was another 3/4 of a length behind the runner-up. Covey Trace, Athena, Game Time Decision, and Ramona’s Wildcat completed the order of finish. Pleasant Tales was scratched.
“That’s exactly how you’re supposed to do it, right?” Calhoun said. “I’m very proud of both of my horses’ efforts today. This was a great spot for Finley’sluckycharm to stay home and hopefully finish off the meet with the (Grade 3, $100,000) Chicago Handicap (on June 24). This gives us the opportunity to save her best for some of the Grade 1s down the road.”
Finley’sluckycharm is a dark bay or brown daughter of Twirling Candy out of the Victory Gallop mare Day of Victory. She was bred in Kentucky by Lakland Farm.
The Winning Colors is named for the most recent filly to have won the Kentucky Derby, who beat the boys in the 114th running in 1988 for the Hall of Fame tandem of trainer D. Wayne Lukas and jockey Gary Stevens.
Finley’sluckycharm returned $2.40, $2.20, and $2.10. Mayla brought back $8.60 and $6, while Sweetgrass paid $3.60 to show.