Trainer Ian Wilkes had a big day at Churchill Downs on Thursday, capturing a trio of races to hit his 500th career win milestone. Wilkes kept up the hot streak on Friday, sending out Janis Whitham's homebred Linda to victory in the G2 Mrs. Revere Stakes; the sophomore filly defeated the talented Harmonize by 2 1/2 lengths on the wire. A daughter of Scat Daddy, Linda covered 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf in 1:44.63 under Brian Hernandez, Jr.
“That was a hell of a performance because that was a nice Grade I-winning horse (Harmonize) that she had held off,” Wilkes said. “Anytime you hold off a Grade I horse like that, and that's our first stakes win with her, that's a big performance. She was slow to develop as a baby and went through a few things but when she came to us she just blossomed and got better and better.”
Canadian invader Caren broke on top of the field, joined by a cluster of speed-oriented fillies from the outside of the starting gate pressing down on her as the field crossed under the wire for the first time. Linda had held a decent spot just off the rail in third or fourth, but was squeezed back to seventh approaching the first turn. Hernandez never panicked, saving ground two paths off the rail and waiting patiently for his chance. Celestial Insight, Cross Country and Strive all pressured Caren about three-quarters of a length off her lead through early fractions of :24.26 and :48.61. Hawksmoor tracked those four from the rail as Mo Knows followed on her outside, with Linda matching strides with Shelbysmile from seventh and Harmonize just behind them.
Approaching the far turn, Hernanez moved Linda out four-wide and began to unleash her rally, but Junior Alvarado aboard Harmonize saw her go and went with her, traveling five-wide around the turn. At the top of the lane, those two had left the rest of the field strung out behind them, battling toward the wire with everything they had. With a sixteenth left to run, Linda seemed to find another gear, dropping her head and gliding away to score by 2 1/2 lengths on the line. Harmonize had to settle for second, with Wilkes' other entrant, Sweet Tapper, just getting up for third. Mo Knows stayed on for fourth.
“We had thought she would run that well but for her told hold off a challenge form Harmonize like she did,” Hernandez said. “That was real impressive.”
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, Linda is out of a daughter of Sunny's Halo. It took her five starts to break her maiden, but she immediately followed that up with a win in allowance company at Kentucky Downs. She was second in the G3 Valley View Stakes last out, but the Mrs. Revere is her first graded stakes win. Overall, Linda boasts a record of three wins and three seconds from eight starts, with earnings of nearly $280,000.
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