Finley’sluckycharm took command of Saturday’s $100,000 Chicago Handicap (G3) in its first running at Churchill Downs and never looked back en route to a 2 1/4-length victory under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.
The duo set splits of :22.85, :45.62 and 1:09.64 before completing seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:22.17. Trained by Bret Calhoun for Carl R. Moore Management LLC, Finley’sluckycharm was sent off the heavy 1-5 favorite and returned $2.60 for the win.
Ivy Bell, the 24-1 third longest shot in the 10-strong field, stalked the early pace and got up to take second by 2 1/2 lengths over 21-1 Mayla, who is also trained by Calhoun.
She Mabee Wild followed another 3 1/4 lengths behind, sticking her neck in front of 8-1 second choice Kathballu on the wire to take fourth. Completing the order under the line were Covey Trace, Athena, Sweetgrass, Stageplay and Pleasant Tales.
Finley’sluckycharm is now a perfect six-for-six under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs and improved her overall record to read 10-8-1-0, $403,368. The Twirling Candy four-year-old’s only unplaced run came in last year’s Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) and her other loss was a half-length second in the La Brea Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park to close out her sophomore campaign on December 26.
Thus far this year the dark bay miss has romped in the Roxelana Stakes and Winning Colors Stakes (G3).
Bred in Kentucky by Lakland Farm, Finley’sluckycharm is out of the multiple stakes-placed Victory Gallop mare Day of Victory. Her second dam, dual stakes-placed Gather the Day, is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Pure Clan, and her fourth dam is 1977 champion sprinter What a Summer.
CHICAGO HANDICAP QUOTES
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey Finley’sluckycharm, winner
“On a filly like this, you just have to stay out of her way. She handled the distance fine. We weren’t too concerned going into this race after she was just beaten a neck in the La Brea (Grade I) last year. She’s such a nice horse.”
Bret Calhoun, trainer Finley’sluckycharm (1st) and Mayla (3rd)
“I’m so proud of both of my horses. Finley’sluckycharm loves it here at Churchill Downs. It’s always nice to run at the track in your backyard. It’s been such a fun ride with her so far and I hope it lasts a while longer.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, jockey Ivy Bell, second
“She tries hard. She’s a very, very classy filly and she runs hard every time they lead her over there. Today she was just second-best. She kind of gave me a thrill when she cut the corner and I got her to the outside. She gave me a little spurt but she was just second-best today. The winner ran a phenomenal race, but I thought she just tried for me the whole way.”Billy Denzik Jr., trainer Ivy Bell, second
“She’d been doing super, but we just didn’t know about this race. I thought her (speed) figures were a little light for the way she’s been running. But she’s been training great, so we took a shot and it worked out. She’s now graded stakes-placed, and the guy that owners her (Brock T. Smith) keeps looking at broodmares, so it really worked out good for her. I think that winner might be the best, or very close to it.”
This is a big step for Ivy Bell – any thoughts on what might be next for her?
“We’ll probably look at the (August 13) Groupie Doll ([G3] at Ellis Park) with her. We’ll just get her back and look at her, but maybe the Groupie Doll. I’d like to stretch her out to a mile and, shoot, I don’t see why she couldn’t do that. So that’s probably the next step.”