The second G1 on a stakes-heavy Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs on Friday was won by the improving Pauline’s Pearl, who outgained old rival and track specialist Shedaresthedevil to land her first top-level contest in the La Troienne. Elsewhere, Arrest Me Red maintained the dominance of trainer Wesley Ward in the speed-horse category when cruising to victory in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint.
La Troienne Stakes – Grade 1
Pearl is a little gem
Same two horses, different day, same result. Pauline’s Pearl asserted her superiority over Shedaresthedevil when running out a narrow winner of the La Troienne, the highlight of the undercard at Churchill Downs on Friday.
The two had met in the G2 Azeri at Oaklawn Park in March, finishing second and third with Pauline’s Pearl having the advantage by a length. It was closer this time, just half a length, but it was enough after the elegant grey 9-5 second-choice had produced a gritty stretch drive under Joel Rosario to run down the front-running odds-on favourite well inside the final sixteenth, stopping the clock in 1:42 and two-fifths.
It was the first defeat at Churchill Downs for Shedaresthedevil, who has won five times under the twin spires. Ava’s Grace took the show spot, two and three-quarter lengths further back.
“She has settled down so much with maturity,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “She was always on her toes, a touch anxious, and she has just been so confident on the track all this year. She got her chance in another Grade 1 and took it.”
This was Pauline’s Pearl’s breakthrough at the top level after two earlier G3 wins. The Tapit filly has only missed the board twice in a 13-race career, and her next objective will be organised alongside the schedule of barnmate and fellow G1 winner Clairiere, who is also owned by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables.
Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes – Grade 2
Red means go
Wesley Ward appears to have a lock on the best turf sprinters, and Arrest Me Red proved an ideal stand-in for outstanding barnmate Golden Pal when landing the Twin Spires Turf Sprint in comfortable fashion.
The four-year-old was part of a frantic pace set-up that left six horses in line across the track through the first quarter, and stayed in the front rank until moving to the lead in mid-stretch. There were plenty still with chances, but Arrest Me Red asserted with a sixteenth to run and the 7-2 favourite stretched his lead to a length and three-quarters at the line. The longshot Bran nosed out Gregorian Chant to claim second spot; the time was 1:04 and one-fifth.
“I know my horse, he doesn’t want to be on the lead,” said jockey Irad Ortiz. “I knew it was gonna be a fast pace and he put me in a great position without using too much, so I was happy all the way around.”
This victory gives Arrest Me Red a six-for-nine resume and he should continue to be the perfect super-sub through the summer for Ward, after Golden Pal ships to Britain for the Royal Ascot festivities next month.
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