Amy’s Challenge refused to give up in Saturday’s $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn Park, duking it out with 4-5 favorite Mia Mischief throughout the stretch before outgaming her rival to get her neck in front on the wire.
Mia Mischief tried to lead all the way home, taking the lead soon after the start and establishing splits of :21.48, :44.49 and :57.20. Meanwhile, jockey Jareth Loveberry allowed Amy’s Challenge to relax in the five path just off the pace after hitting the gate and bobbling at the start.
Amy’s Challenge caught up with Mia Mischief and those two left the rest of the field behind entering the turn. The favorite held a slight advantage throughout on the inside but Amy’s Challenge would not back down, digging deep to ground out the neck score in a final time of 1:10.61 for six furlongs over the fast main track.
Campaigned by Novogratz Racing Stables Inc. and sent off the 7-5 second choice, Amy’s Challenge paid $4.80 for moving her career record to a perfect three-for-three.
Mia Mischief continued the pattern she established last September of finishing second, then winning, finishing second, then winning. After taking an allowance/optional claimer on November 25 at Churchill Downs, the bay lass finished second in this spot, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Secret Passion. Getupbabygetup followed in fourth while Vision of Justice and Thoughtless Doll completed the order under the line.
Trained by McLean Robertson, Amy’s Challenge faced only fillies for the first time in this spot. She dominated her August 6 maiden debut at Canterbury Park against colts and geldings, pulling away at the start and extending her margin under a hand ride to be 16 lengths clear on the wire. Next up at Canterbury, the dark bay daughter of Artie Schiller scored a three-quarter length victory against a mixed field of fillies, colts and geldings in the September 16 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes.
Amy’s Challenge was making her first start since that contest as well as her sophomore bow in this spot, and now boasts $136,800 in career earnings.
Bred in Kentucky by Sierra Farm, Amy’s Challenge is out of the Jump Start mare Jump Up, who retired having won all three of her career races. Her fourth dam produced multiple Grade 2 heroine Queenie Belle, who in turn foaled 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) victress Unrivaled Belle.
DIXIE BELLE QUOTES
McLean Robertson, trainer Amy’s Challenge, winner
“It looked like she bobbled a little the second jump, and just kind of ‘Oomph,’ and then natural speed put her right there. I thought (Jareth) Loveberry gave her a great ride. He waited right until the end. (Steve) Asmussen’s filly is awfully fast, but maybe at the end she was getting a little tired, too, so great ride.”
Jareth Loveberry, jockey Amy’s Challenge, winner
“She took a little bit of a bobble out of the gate, just a little slip. It actually made it better because she got to sit and relax off it just a little bit.
“It was actually pretty good. I just sat off of it, kind of let the speed go with each other and sat right there. It kind of dictated where we wanted to be. She is all heart down the lane, that horse. Head to head she dug through and finished strong.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., jockey Mia Mischief, second
“She ran a good race, she missed a few weeks of training and I know we had snow days but she ran a good race and she tried hard to the end. Next, race she won’t be topped.”