LOUISVILLE, KY – Marylou Whitney Stables’ homebred Hard Legacy nearly took the field from gate to wire, giving trainer Norm Casse his first career graded stakes score in Saturday’s $150,000 Regret Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.
Exiting from post 5 under Julien Leparoux at 5/1 odds, Hard Legacy dueled early with the rail-breaking Winter Sunset as the field passed the wire for the first time before Hard Legacy secured clear command midway through the clubhouse turn. Running smoothly down the backside with her ears pricked, Hard Legacy posted opening fractions of :23.62, :48.06, and 1:12.94.
Off of the far turn, Winter Sunset made a bid for the lead and presented a strong challenge, but at the 1/8 pole, Hard Legacy repelled her and strode away strongly. In the shadow of the wire, Leparoux shook his fist in triumph. Hard Legacy crossed with a 1 1/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:48.22 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the firm turf course.
“She can break a little slow sometimes,” Leparoux said. “Today, she broke really well. I left her along and got her in a good rhythm. I got her to relax on the backside and she had enough late to hold them off.”
Winter Sunset held onto second by 1 1/2 lengths over the 9/5 favorite Varenka, who was boxed in for much of the stretch run and danced around before finding room on the rail and getting up late for third. The winner’s stablemate Belle Laura necked out Delta Kingdom for fourth, while Crafty’s Dream and Gamblin Train were a head and a neck past Princesa Carolina for sixth and seventh, respectively. Choate Bridge, Hungry Kitten, and Fortunate Girl completed the order of finish.
Hard Legacy’s win was a return to form after she was undefeated in two starts as a juvenile but winless in two starts this year. The 3-year-old daughter of Hard Spun now sports a record of 5-3-0-0 with $164,500 earned.
“Churchill Downs is my home, Louisville is my home; to win my first stakes win here is so special,” Casse said. “I thought today would be the day. Hard Legacy had been training very well, we had Julien up, it was time to get the first stakes win. Hopefully, the first of many.”
The Regret Stakes is named in honor of the filly who, in 1915, became the first female to win the Kentucky Derby. Her owner, Harry Payne Whitney, was the father of C. V. Whitney, Marylou’s deceased husband.
Hard Legacy returned $13.80 to win, $6.60 to place, and $4.60 to show. Winter Sunset brought back $5.40 to place and $3.40 to show, while Varenka paid $2.80 to show.