The 2-year-old filly Envied did something her famous dad failed to do: win her first start.
Envied became the fourth winner from the first crop of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, capturing Ellis Park's fifth race by neck over favored Swanage.
American Pharoah was fifth in his first start but went on to win eight straight races, including becoming the first horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont since Affirmed in 1978. American Pharoah was upset in the Travers Stakes but rebounded to conclude his career with victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland. He entered a stallion career at Coolmore America's Ashford Stud as one of the most anticipated sires in some years.
Owned by breeder Hank Nothhaft and trained by Ben Colebrook, the Keeneland-based Envied was making her first career start under jockey Corey Lanerie. Envied stalked the early pace before Lanerie angled her out into the stretch and wore down Swanage to prevail by a neck while covering the mile on turf in 1:35.97. The sixth choice in the field of 12, Envied returned a fat $18.40 to win under the three-time defending and five-time overall Ellis Park leading jockey.
“It was really great,” Lanerie said. “She warmed up like she's a little green. But when the gates opened, she broke really sharp and was pretty professional. Ran like an old horse. She was stuck down inside for a long part of the race. For a baby to do that and stay in there and split horses like she did is really good.”
Colebrook said they thought Envied might be the type of 2-year-old to race in the spring.
“And she hit a growth spurt so we took a little bit of our time,” he said by phone. “We didn't stop on her. We just gave her a little time and let her grow up. One thing about her, she's always had a really good mind, which I think is pretty typical of these Pharoahs. They seem like they handle everything, just like he did. She's super classy. Does everything you ask of her.
“She really showed a lot in her first start. I think the time of the race was pretty good. She did look like she lacked a little racing room for a second, but then it all opened up, as they do in those 2-year-old races usually. And she had enough to run down Mike Maker's filly, who looks like a pretty decent filly as well. So we're happy.”
Colebrook said he had hoped to get offspring of American Pharoah to train but was basically window shopping at the auctions.
“It's exciting as a trainer to get that kind of stock, obviously,” he said. “I was looking forward hopefully to get a couple. The people we kind of buy for at the sales they don't usually do unproven sires. So we were looking at them at the sales, but we weren't going to buy one. But you could just see how athletic they were, how good their minds were. I was hoping I'd get sent one by somebody else.”
That turned out to be Hank Nothhaft, Envied's breeder. The filly was Hip #1 — the first to go into the ring — at Keeneland's 2018 September yearling sale. When the top bid of $335,000 came in below Nothhaft's preset minimum sales price, the former Marine from Austin, Texas, kept the filly to race himself.
“When his manager, Carl McEntee, called and said they were most likely going to send her to me, I was really excited to get her,” Colebrook said.
Colebrook said they debuted Envied on the turf because of her female family, the filly being a foal out of the Irish-bred Halljoy, who is a daughter of Halling, a five-time Group 1 winner on turf in Europe.
“I would have left her in the race if it had come off the grass,” Colebrook said. “By the same token, I thought she was really going to like the grass.”
The short-range target is the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies at a mile on Kentucky Downs' opening card Aug. 31, Colebrook said. The question now is how to get her to that race.
“I think we run once more before then, if everything looks good,” he said. “Those Kentucky Downs races for 2-year-old horses are always on my radar.”
Jeff Bloom, head of the Bloom Racing partnership that campaigns the Maker-trained Swanage, said the Kentucky Downs race is on their agenda as well.
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