Secret Message emerged late on the outside to defeat a host of challengers in Saturday’s $100,000 Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs. The 1 1/16-mile turf affair was up for grabs in deep stretch, and Secret Message closed fastest of all to post a 25-1 upset, edging 21-1 La Signare by a head.
“I was just sort of biding time there on the outside and she kept finding her stride down the lane and was able to get up late,” jockey John Velazquez said.
Zofelle was in with a big chance before just missing in third, a neck behind the runner-up at 8-1.
“Both horses ran such a huge race,” said Brendan Walsh, trainer of both La Signare and Zofelle . “We ran second and third by a head. Those are really tough beats when you lose by that close of a margin but we are really proud of both of their efforts.”
She’sonthewarpath surged late among rivals to finish another neck back in fourth, less than a length behind the winner at 12-1. Altea, who was rolling late from off the pace, wound up a close fifth at 11-1.
Secret Message is trained by Graham Motion and returned from a seven-month layoff to score for owners Madaket Stables, Heider Family Stables, Elayne Stables, Steven Bouchey. The 5-year-old mare stopped the teletimer in 1:43.13.
After returning from a layoff with victories in the Dahlia S. at Laurel Park and Nassau (G2) at Woodbine, Secret Message concluded 2019 with three straight unplaced efforts versus graded rivals. The daughter of Hat Trick has now earned $416,838 from a 15-6-2-0 record.
Juliet Foxtrot, the 8-5 favorite, weakened to sixth after being forwardly placed from the start. Early pacesetter Mitchell Road, Nay Lady Nay, Beau Recall, Coco Channel, Varenka, Winning Envelope, Elizabeth Way, and Hanalei Moon came next under the wire.
Bred in Kentucky by Allen Tennenbaum, Secret Message hails from the Gone West mare Westside Singer, who is out of the stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Zawzooth.