Three Chimneys Farm LLC and Fern Circle Stables’ Restless Rider overcame trouble on the turn to convincingly beat Shanghai Rain by a record 11 ¼ lengths and six other 2-year-old fillies in the 118th running of the $100,000 Debutante (Listed) on closing day of Churchill Downs’ 38-day Spring Meet.
Restless Rider, the even-money favorite, clocked six furlongs over a fast track in 1:10.62. The Spring Meet’s leading jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. rode the winner for trainer Kenny McPeek, who also won last year’s Debutante with Sunny Skies.
Payntermaniac broke fastest of all from post 3 as Restless Rider chased in fourth from the inside. After running the first quarter mile in :21.41 something went amiss with Payntermaniac as they entered the turn, which forced Restless Rider to check sharply. Restless Rider recovered quickly, circled to the outside and passed Hay Dilly, who had a narrow lead over Shanghai Rain and O’Keeffe at the top of the stretch after a half mile in :45.65. From there, it was all Restless Rider, who drew off for the largest win margin in the storied race’s history to eclipse Sweet Little Lady’s 11-length mark in 1977.
“That was super impressive,” Hernandez said. “The filly on the inside of us (Payntermaniac) 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.”
The victory was worth $60,760 which increased the 2-year-old filly’s earnings to $91,360 with a perfect record of two starts. Prior to her Debutante triumph, Restless Rider broke her maiden at Churchill Downs on June 8 by 2 ¾ lengths.
“You don’t see horses get completely stopped and come back to win by (11 ¼ 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 paid $4.20, $2.60 and $2.10. Shanghai Rain, the 5-2 second choice ridden by Gabriel Saez, returned $3 and $2.20. Beach Getaway, with Joe Rocco Jr. up, was 2 ¼ lengths back of the runner-up and paid $4.20.
“Nobody was beating the winner today,” said Beach Getaway’s trainer Ben Colebrook. “That was probably the most impressive 2-year-old performance of the year, if not the last couple. That was freakish.”
Hay Dilly, My Wynter Rose, O’Keeffe and Miss Mission completed the order of finish. Payntermaniac was pulled up, vanned off and returned to the Receiving Barn after the race. War Ballad was scratched.
Restless Rider is a 2-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Silky Serenade. She was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC.
The Debutante, first staged in 1895 and one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races, was one the first of three stakes races on Saturday’s closing day card at Churchill Downs. The $75,000-added Kelly’s Landing and $100,000 Bashford Manor (Grade III) were to be run as Races 10-11 on the 12-race program.
Racing in Kentucky will shift to Ellis Park on Sunday. Action at Churchill Downs will return Sept. 14 for the sixth annual 11-date September Meeting, which will continue through Sept. 30.