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LOUISVILLE, KY – Juddmonte Farms homebred Obligatory ran down the 3/1 favorite Dayoutoftheoffice late, then ran off to win Friday’s $300,000 Eight Belles Stakes Presented by Smithfield (G2) at Churchill Downs.
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Obligatory broke from post 7 under Jose Ortiz at longshot odds of 16/1 and took back to the rear while Euphoric outkicked Windmill and Dayoutoftheoffice for the early lead.
After pressing the pace three-wide through opening fractions of :21.89 and :44.46, Dayoutoftheoffice advanced in the far turn and straightened for home with a seemingly insurmountable lead.
Following a ground-saving trip while cornering, Obligatory tipped out widest of all near the top of the stretch and commenced a strong rally down the crown of the course.
Gobbling up dirt quickly inside the 1/8 pole, the Bill Mott trainee blew past Dayoutoftheoffice before crossing the wire 1 length clear, completing the 7-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:21.89.
“It was just like I planned it,” Ortiz said. “(T)here was going to be a lot of speed on the rail on paper. I was going to sit on her and give her one good move. The first part was nice and easy. The second part, she came running. … She’s a filly that is improving a lot.”
Dayoutoftheoffice saved second by 1 3/4 lengths over Make Mischief, while Souper Sensational found room between rivals late and snuck up for fourth by a 1/2-length and 3/4 of a length over Abrogate and Li’l Tootsie.
Caramel Swirl, Slumber Party, Cantata, Euphoric, Windmill, and an eased Kalypso completed the order of finish in the race restricted to 3-year-old fillies.
Obligatory’s win was her first in a stakes and came in her second attempt at the level following a fourth-place finish in last month’s Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). The Curlin filly’s overall record now stands at 4-2-0-0 with $217,780 earned.
“I think she was a little confused when she ran two turns in (the Fair Grounds Oaks),” Mott said. “The pace today turned out good. We both knew there was a tremendous amount of speed in the race. She was able to close into it. She had a good kick. You just hope it didn’t take too much out of her, she got the win and I think she earned a ticket into a good race like the Acorn ([G1], a one-turn mile at Belmont Park on June 5).”
Obligatory returned $35 to win, $12.40 to place, and $9.80 to show. Dayoutoftheoffice brought back $4.80 to place and $4 to show. Make Mischief paid $11.60 to show.
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