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LOUISVILLE, KY – G. Watts Humphrey Jr. homebred Navratilova stretched out impressively, putting forth an ultra-tough front-running effort to win Saturday’s $150,000 Tepin Stakes at Churchill Downs.
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Navratilova broke from post 5 under Brian Hernandez Jr. and went straight to the lead, but the other 10 sophomore fillies were closely-bunched behind her heading into the clubhouse turn.
The Rusty Arnold trainee posted opening fractions of :24.35, :48.99, and 1:12.70 as New Boss gave closest watch, and off the far turn, that rival ranged up to challenge for the lead.
Navratilova fought back gamely along the rail and repelled New Boss’ bid, then withstood a late push from Tobys Heart to win the firm turf mile route by a 1/2-length in 1:35.56.
“She relaxed well up front and had her ears up,” Hernandez Jr. said. “Down the stretch, she really had to dig in to hold off those challengers. She ran well and handled the distance like we thought she could.”
Tobys Heart crossed a head in front of New Boss for second, while behind them came a six-horse photo finish for fourth that went to Town Avenger over Adventuring, Arm Candy, the 5/2 favorite Invincible Gal, Bullseye Beauty, and Commanders Palace.
Barista and Fairchild completed the order of finish. Malloy and Sylvia Q scratched.
Navratilova’s win followed a pair of third-place finishes in turf sprint stakes, including the local Mamzelle last time out. The Medaglia d’Oro filly improved her record to 5-2-0-2 with $136,340 earned.
“Her dam (Centre Court) was a Grade 1 winner going 1 1/16 miles, so we thought she’d like the distance today,” Arnold said. “She was sprinting in her last start, which she didn’t handle as well, but did much better today.”
Navratilova returned $20.80 to win, $9.40 to place, and $7 to show. Tobys Heart brought back $4.80 to place and $4.20 to show. New Boss paid $5.80 to show.
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