The Eight Belles was the debut in stakes competition for Victoria’s Wildcat, who won for the second time in three races at Churchill Downs.
Home Sweet Aspen, ridden by Joel Rosario led the field of 10 sprinters through and opening quarter-mile of :22.02 but was joined entering the far turn by Honey Chile and Jose Lezcano as the duo clicked off a half-mile in :44.57.
The two leaders kicked clear at the top of the lane while Desormeaux angled between horses in the upper stretch for clear running that produced the victory. Victoria’s Wildcat covered the seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:23.03.
The victory was worth $69,973 and increased Victoria’s Wildcat’s earnings to $151,571 with a record of 7-3-1-0. Victoria’s Wildcat, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Bellamy Road out of the Woodman mare Flaming Mirage, scored her first career victory last fall in a Churchill Downs allowance race and has now won three consecutive races. The Eight Belles was her career debut.
Victoria’s Wildcat returned $15.20, $6.20 and $4.40. Home Sweet Aspen returned $6 and $4.80 and finished a nose ahead of Honey Chile, who paid $6.60 to show.
It was another 1 ½ lengths back to Angelica Zapata, who was followed in order by Holiday Flare, Pomeroys Pistol, Formal Plan, Arienza, Dr. Diamonds Prize and Mysterious Chimes.
EIGHT BELLES QUOTES
KENT DESORMEAUX (Jockey, Victoria’s Wildcat, winner) – “This is like a case of brotherly love. Bob (trainer Bob Hess, Jr.) has been putting me on horses since 1990. It sure is good to win one for him. The first 100 yards out of the gate I got hazed. She was having trouble switching her leads and she fell back behind them. But she got it going and in the end it unfolded just like I’d hoped. It helps when you’ve got the horse to do it. It’s like going for that hole and having the hole go faster than you. Today we were fast enough to get right on through.”
BOB HESS (Trainer, Victoria’s Wildcat, winner) --“This is what we always thought we had, and it has finally all came together. She bruised her foot in January. We thought she hurt herself, but it was just a bruise and an abscess. We lost some time in January with her. She’s going to be a neat filly the rest of the year and next year. She’s very healthy. We’ll sit down and talk about what’s next – maybe something in New York or here.”
JOEL ROSARIO (Jockey, Home Sweet Aspen, second) – “She ran well, but I was pushed all the way. That pressure outside is not the best for a horse. The winner just came by us fastest. There’s nothing you can do about that.”
JOSE LEZCANO (Jockey, Honey Chile, third) – “I think she ran a good race. She broke sharp and I thought we were going to get there, but the other filly (Victoria’s Wildcat) came and got her.”
DAN PEITZ (Trainer Arienza, eighth as beaten favorite) – “I just want to get back there and make sure she is OK. He (jockey Ramon Dominguez) felt like she didn’t handle the race track, but I don’t know. That’s kind of a lame excuse, I think. I don’t know. I’m to get back there and see how she is. I’ll know more tomorrow probably about where we’re at. Hopefully, she will be good.”