Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
After being purchased privately for a lofty but undisclosed sum, Sky
Girl provided new owner John Clay's Alpha Delta Stables with a quick
return on investment.
The 3-year-old filly found an opening
on the rail in the stretch and ran down Irish Lute to win Saturday's
38th running of the $110,000 Dogwood (Grade III) at Churchill Downs by a
convincing 1 ½ lengths.
Sky Girl, ridden by Corey Lanerie,
ran seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:23.73 to pad Hall of Fame
trainer Bill Mott's Churchill Downs career win and stakes win records.
It was his 674th local victory and 88th stakes triumph beneath the Twin
Sky Girl, previously trained by Paul McGee, was
privately sold to Clay by owner Samantha Siegel's Jay Em Ess Stable
following her third-place finish in the Arlington Park Oaks (GIII),
which was contested over 1 1/8 miles on the synthetic Polytrack surface
on July 20. Prior to the that effort, she was victorious in two starts
during Churchill Downs' Spring Meet - a 4 ½-length romp in a maiden
special weight followed by a two-length score in a first-level
allowance/optional claiming race.
In her first start for
Mott, Sky Girl broke from the inside post in the field of six 3-year-old
fillies and patiently tracked pacesetters Irish Lute and Guadalupe
High, who dueled for the early lead through modest fractions of :23.16
and :46.30. Irish Lute put away Guadalupe High on the final turn as Sky
Girl ranged into contention with a three-wide move. The eventual winner
was bottled up behind the leaders at the top of the stretch but Lanerie
patiently waited for a hole to open on the inside and angled the filly
in for her winning move.
"I was hoping to come around - I
thought the rail was a little bit dead - but it was getting late in the
race and (inside) looked like my only option," Lanerie said. "I didn't
want to wait too long."
"I thought she showed a lot of
heart to come up the inside and push past the five (Irish Lute) and she
won pretty nicely," said Mott's veteran Kentucky assistant Kenny
Sky Girl, sent to post as the 4-5 betting
favorite, paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20. Irish Lute, ridden by Shaun
Bridgmohan, returned $3.20 and $2.60. Elusive Fate, was another neck
back in third under Brian Hernandez Jr., and paid $3.80.
Don't Tell Veda, Finding More and Guadalupe High completed the order of
finish. So Many Ways, Fusaichiswonderful and Thetaloveandmine were
The $67,518 first prize jumped Sky Girl's career
earnings to $150,853. The new stakes winner has won three of five
starts overall with a pair of thirds. Each of her victories has come at
"She's got a big future, I think," Lanerie said.
Sky Girl, a daughter of Sky Mesa out of the Deputy Minister mare
Vargas Girl, was bred in Kentucky by Eamon Cleary's Clearsky Farms of
Lexington. She was sold at Keeneland's 2011 September Yearling Sale for
The Dogwood - named for the hardy, blooming
tree that adds beauty to the spring landscape in Kentucky - was renewed
at Churchill Downs' September Meet following a one-year hiatus. It had
been run during the Spring Meet from 1975 to 2011.
Mott, it was his second Dogwood victory. He won the race in 1984 with
Hiram Polk and David Richardson's classy filly Mrs. Revere.
McCARTHY, assistant to BILL MOTT, trainer of SKY GIRL (winner): "We had
thought the rail was a little bit dead, and our game plan was to come
off the rail if the field spread out a little bit. But Corey (Lanerie)
said when they turned for home that opening (on the rail) was there and
he couldn't avoid it and had to take it. But I thought she showed a lot
of heart to come up the inside and push past the five (Irish Lute) and
she won pretty nicely."
COREY LANERIE, rider of SKY GIRL
(winner): Q: She got out of the gate a little slowly ... "I was actually
hoping to be laying third. They weren't going very fast after they
out-broke me ; they covered me up. I was content with sittin' and she
was traveling so nice up to the quarter pole. I was hoping to come
around - I thought the rail was a little bit dead - but it was getting
late in the race and (inside) looked like my only option. I didn't want
to wait too long. When I swung down there she bogged down on me a little
bit and for one minute I thought I maybe wasn't going to get there.
When she got in there she kind of loafed on me a little bit - she was
like, 'I got 'em, don't worry.' What a nice horse."
rode this horse in four races for her former trainer Paul McGee. What
kind of instructions from the tram of new trainer Bill Mott? "They just
told me you know her better than us. Try not to get stuck down on the
fence - which I did. But it worked out."
Q: It looked like when
you got the spot on the inside, she would spurt right through - but it
took a bit ... "I thought I was going to run right through it, but I
didn't. I didn't know if it was just when she got in there she started
looking around a little bit, or just the racetrack cupping out from
under her. But when I was sitting behind 'em, I thought 'I've got 'em
when I want 'em.' She's got a big future, I think."
STEWART, trainer of IRISH LUTE (runner-up): "She ran terrific. She was
in command of the race the whole time and she just got beat by a nice