Merriebelle Stable's Blue Prize extended her win streak to three straight graded stakes on Sunday, adding her first top-level triumph with a victory in the G1 Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland. In the stretch, the 5-year-old daughter of Pure Prize ran erratically, first darting toward the rail and then away from it, but jockey Joe Bravo got her straightened out in the middle of the track to win by about a length on the wire. Off at odds of 9-2, the Ignacio Correas trainee completed nine furlongs over the fast main track in 1:50.02 to solidify her berth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff next month at Churchill Downs.
“It means a lot,” said Correas, who won his first G1 in North America after being a leading trainer in South America. “Been a tough road, for me and my family, but we all believed in ourselves and thank this great country that give us opportunities to thrive, if you work hard and you try. It's hard to put into words.
“(Blue Prize has) matured and gotten more experience in America (after beginning her career in Argentina). She's a phenomenal mare. I love (Blue Prize) and Dona Bruja (ARG) (a Grade 3 winner who was second in Saturday's First Lady-G1) and (Grade 2 winner) Kasaqui (ARG). They have built me.”
Blue Prize was well-rated in the early going, about mid-pack for Bravo on the outside of rivals. Up front, Southern Perfection controlled the early fractions with a one-length advantage, clicking through times of :23.79, :47.62, and 1:12.27. She was tracked by Sassy Siena, Pacific Wind, Talk Veuve to Me and Champagne Problems, with Blue Prize in sixth down the backstretch.
Turning for home, Blue Prize went wide to easily take command. As she passed her rivals she cut over to the rail path, then suddenly darted out to mid-track about half-way down the stretch. Though Champagne Problems was making up ground at the rail, Bravo was able to keep Blue Prize fighting to the wire to win by about a length. Champagne Problems held second over Pacific Wind, with Fuhriously Kissed checking in fourth.
“She got lonely,” said Bravo, laughing. “She made the race exciting, didn't she? She's got a lot of talent. Ignacio gave me a heads up in the Paddock. He said, Listen, make sure to keep her attention at all times, keep her focused, and now we see why, right? We weren't expecting that. After she went out there, I left her alone. She has a beautiful stride – I thought, she's better than everybody in here.
“When she got to about the three-sixteenth pole, she started drifting. I got into her left-handed a few times. I don't know if it was the stick that caused it. She kind of went in before I used the stick. I think she was waiting on competition. She kinda did it with control. Wow, she's talented.”
Bred in Argentina by Bioart S. A., Blue Prize is out of the Not for Sale mare Blues for Sale. She has been on a tear this season, and has now won four of six starts on the year, including a pair over the Breeders' Cup surface at Churchill Downs. Overall, Blue Prize boasts a record of 7-7-1 from 16 starts and earnings of over $950,000.
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