LOUISVILLE, KY – Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm’s Restless Rider ran off in ridiculous fashion on Saturday, scoring victory by a record-setting 11 1/4 lengths in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Breaking well from post 5 as the even-money favorite under Brian Hernandez, Jr., Restless Rider sat back and settled along the rail while Payntermaniac shot to an early lead and posted :21.41 for the opening 1/4-mile. Heading into the far turn, Payntermaniac took a bad step and was pulled up immediately, which forced Restless Rider to check hard in order to avoid a collision. Regathering quickly, Restless Rider surged through the far turn and caught the lead trio as she turned for home four-wide with a full head of steam. Continuing to carry forth with gusto, the Kenny McPeek trainee drew off from her foes as if they were standing still and rode out sharply, hitting the wire in a final time of 1:10.62 for the 6-furlong main track event.
“That was super impressive,” said Hernandez, Jr. “The filly on the inside of us got into trouble and forced us to change our position. You don’t really see young horses like this recover as she did. She switched leads nicely in the stretch and was powerful. It really leaves you speechless.”
Though no match for the winner, Shanghai Rain finished strongly to take second by 2 1/3 lengths over Beach Getaway and Hay Dilly. Fifth went to My Wynter Rose, with O’Keeffe and Miss Mission completing the order of finish. War Ballad was scratched. Payntermaniac was vanned off of the track before being diagnosed with a broken knee, at which point she was humanely euthanized.
Restless Rider’s win was her second in as many starts, both under the hallowed Churchill Downs twin spires. The 2-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor has now earned $91,360 in her young career after being purchased for $150,000 as a yearling.
“You don’t see horses get completely stopped and come back to win by (11 1/4 lengths), let alone young horses,” said McPeek’s assistant trainer Greg Geier. “She is super impressive. We were confident with her training coming into the race and thought she’d run a big effort. In her first race, she got into a lot of trouble behind the starting gate, but we worked with her in the mornings to get her better at the gate. She was really professional today.”
Restless Rider returned $4.20 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Shanghai Rain brought back $3 to place and $2.20 to show, while Beach Getaway paid $4.20 to show.