Klein Racing’s Pinch Hit parlayed an early ground-saving trip under jockey Jon Court into victory at Churchill Downs Saturday evening in the $100,000 Dogwood Stakes.
No More Babies sped up between Student Body and Covenant, and those three lined up across the track as Pinch Hit dropped back to the rail in midpack behind 2-1 favorite Farrell and My Sweet Stella. Student Body quickly backed out of it, leaving No More Babies to set the pace through splits of :22.56 and :45.80 with Covenant to her outside.
My Sweet Stella began her move nearing the turn, closing fast to take up position outside of Covenant, but couldn’t sustain her run. Meanwhile, Court angled Pinch Hit off the rail and the Harlan’s Holiday filly set her sights on the leaders.
Pinch Hit split rivals and grabbed command in the lane, digging in when Champagne Problems rallied up the rail to hold that one by a neck on the wire. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to Jordan’s Henny, who in turn had 4 1/4 lengths to spare on Covenant in fourth. Farrell never got out of first gear, coming in fifth, and was followed under the line by Nineteenth Street, No More Babies, Student Body and My Sweet Stella.
Sent off the 5-1 third choice, Pinch Hit paid $12.20 for finishing seven furlongs over the fast main track in 1:23.27. The Brad Cox trainee improved her career record to 9-4-2-0, $158,050 for earning her first stakes win in just her second try here. She took four tries to break her maiden, finally getting the job done in late March at Oaklawn Park, briefly visited the claiming ranks, then jumped into allowance company for a pair of wins at Churchill Downs and Ellis Park in May and July.
Pinch Hit made her black-type bow in the August 13 Groupie Doll Stakes (G3) at Ellis, running fourth on that occasion, and entered the Dogwood off that introduction.
Bred in Kentucky by Bertram W. Klein and Reklein Stables, Pinch Hit is the first registered stakes scorer out of the Grade 3-winning Distorted Humor mare Change Up.
Jon Court, jockey Pinch Hit, winner
“I’m so grateful of Brad (Cox) and his whole team for getting this filly ready. She was definitely on her game tonight. We sat a really good trip behind the speed and she responded perfectly when I asked her. I was very impressed with her effort.”
Brad Cox, trainer Pinch Hit, winner
“She has been training so well into this race. She definitely loves it here at Churchill Downs. In the Groupie Doll she got herself into a hot pace but she sat a much better trip tonight. I know this is a special horse for Richard (Klein) so I’m glad we were able to get her a stakes win tonight.”
Richard Klein, owner Pinch Hit, winner
“This horse is so special to me. My father (Bert) bred this horse and she broke her maiden the day before he passed away earlier this year. Then, she won on my birthday and again on my (late) mom (Elaine)’s birthday. I think there are angels watching over her. To win a race like this, it is more special than I can really explain.”
Ian Wilkes, trainer Champagne Problems, second
“The filly went to the paddock really good today. She saddled well and relaxed beautifully in the race for (jockey) Calvin (Borel) and she ran good. She ran a winning race – except we just didn’t win. If I can get her to relax, I really feel that she can do it. She’s always had the talent.”
Mike Tomlinson, trainer Jordan’s Henny, third
“She ran very well. It was just a wide trip and post position got her hung out there a little wide and that hurt us a little. But she ran her eyeballs out and it looks to me like we just couldn’t quite get there. She’s going be a better filly with age. She’s maturing and getting better and we’re looking forward to her four-year-old year.”