Merriebelle Stable LLC’s 5-year-old Argentina-bred mare Blue Prize (ARG) rallied down the stretch to run down pacesetter Farrell and win Saturday night’s 43rd running of the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap Presented by Budweiser (Grade II) at Churchill Downs by 1 ½ lengths.
Ridden by New York-based Jose Ortiz for trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Correas IV ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.02 to bank the $119,040 first prize and secure a berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3 because the race for fillies and mares is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” stakes event. Currently, Blue Prize (ARG) is not Breeders’ Cup nominated.
Runner-up Farrell attempted to wire the field of nine as she dictated terms through quarter-mile splits of :23.97, :48.57 and 1:12.45. Blue Prize (ARG) chased the pace early and fanned five wide on the far turn to drive past Farrell in deep stretch for the win.
Blue Prize (ARG), the 2-1 favorite at 118 pounds, returned $6.60, $4.40 and $3. Farrell, with Jose Ortiz up as the 119-pound starting high weight, paid $7.60 and $5.80. Mopotism, ridden by Mario Gutierrez under 118 pounds, was another three lengths back in third and returned $4.20. Awestruck, Song of Spring, Valadorna, Fuhriously Kissed, Streamline and Apologynotaccepted completed the order of finish.
Blue Prize (ARG) is a daughter of Pure Prize out of the Not For Sale (ARG) mare Blues for Sale (ARG) and was bred by Bioart S.A.
The Fleur de Lis, which means “Flower of the Lily,” honors the French symbol that is incorporated into the city of Louisville’s flag.
Mr. Misunderstood Remains Perfect on Churchill Downs Turf With Victory in Wise Dan
Staton Flurry’s 4-year-old gelding Mr. Misunderstood remained perfect in three starts on the Churchill Downs turf course when he surged past Mr Cub in the final yards to beat a closing Inspector Lynley by a half-length in Saturday night’s 29th running of the $200,000 Wise Dan (Grade II). Mr Cub was another head back in third and 2017 Eclipse Award Champion Turf Male World Approval finished sixth as the 6-5 favorite after being bumped and squeezed at the start.
Ridden by Florent Geroux and trained by Brad Cox, Mr. Misunderstood ran 1 1/16 miles over firm turf in 1:41.83 to collect his sixth stakes win and first against Grade II company.
Mr Cub, ridden by Chris Landeros, set the pace through fractions of :24.70, :48.75 and 1:12.73 as Mr. Misunderstood overcame a hard bump at the start and settled in a tracking position in fourth. Mr. Misunderstood angled off the rail on the far turn and rallied in the stretch to edge past Mr Cub three wide in the final stages.
The victory was worth $121,520 and boosted Mr. Misunderstood’s bankroll to $574,714 with a record of 17-10-2-0.
Mr. Misunderstood returned $7.60, $4.40 and $3.60 as the 5-2 second betting choice. Inspector Lynley, ridden by Jose Ortiz, returned $7.60 and $5.80. Mr Cub paid $5.20 to show. It was another neck back to Divisidero who was followed by Parlor, World Approval and Flatlined. Shining Copper was scratched.
Mr. Misunderstood, a son of Archarcharch out of the Afternoon Deelites mare Jodys Deelite, was bred in Kentucky by Athens Woods.
The Wise Dan, formerly known as the Firecracker until 2016, was renamed to honor Mort Fink’s 2012-13 Horse of the Year that compiled a remarkable lifetime record of 31-23-2-0—$7,7552,920 from 2010-14, including seven Churchill Downs wins and two Firecracker triumphs.
Beyond Blame Holds On Late to Win Grade Regret
Pop a Top LLC’s homebred Beyond Blame rallied at the top of the stretch and held off Go Noni Go and Heavenly Love to capture Saturday night’s 49th running of the $100,000 Regret Stakes (GIII) presented by Cintas.
Beyond Blame, ridden by Florent Geroux and trained by Brad Cox, ran 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf in 1:48.94 while defeating 12 other 3-year-old fillies.
“It’s great to be able to perform at the top level on a big Saturday like this,” Geroux said. “She got into some trouble in her last start but tonight she settled nicely into the first turn and was able to relax just off the speed. She tried really hard down the lane once she took the lead to hold off the other horses. Credit to Brad and his entire team. It’s been a great night.”
Beyond Blame, the 7-2 favorite in the wagering, paid $9, $5.20 and $3.60. Go Noni Go, with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard, paid $13.20 and $7.40. Heavenly Love closed late to finish third and returned $4. Secret Message, Cash Out, Finess Bere (FR), Kabella, Stave, Lemon Princess, She’s Pretty Lucky, Go Google Yourself, Consolida (GB) and Romantic Moment completed the order of finish.
Romantic Moment set a swift pace of :23.50 for the first quarter mile, :47.13 for the half and 1:11.43 for six furlongs before Go Noni Go took the lead with three-eighths of a mile to go. With Beyond Blame racing on the inside in fourth, the daughter of Blame captured the lead with an eighth mile remaining while holding off the late charge of eventual third-place Heavenly Love.
Beyond Blame improved her record to 6-3-2-0 with $123,040 in earnings.