LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When it comes to winning at Churchill Downs, Obligatory obliges.
Making her third start over the historic Louisville track, in Saturday’s $750,000 Derby City Distaff (G1), Obligatory made a patented last-to-first rally to remain perfect following victories last year in the seven-furlong Eight Belles (G2) and one-mile Chilukki (G3).
The gray Juddmonte Farms homebred, who still trailed the field of eight turning for home, turned in a wide, sustained rally to defeat 16-1 chance Four Graces by three parts of a length under Jose Ortiz. The winning time for seven furlongs over a fast track was 1:22.17.
Although there didn’t appear to be as much speed on paper following the early scratch of Lady Rocket, 3-2 favorite Just One Time was sent and beat expected pacesetter Edgeway to the lead. The fractions of :22.36 and :44.95 aided Obligatory immensely.
“Everybody’s looking at the same piece of paper,” trainer Bill Mott said. “They can read and say there’s no speed, but somebody’s going to go. These are top riders, and if they see a lack of speed in a race, that means somebody’s going to take it to them. They did today and it set up well for us.”
Just One Time weakened to third following her early exertions and was followed by Bell’s the One, Kimari, Edgeway, and Center Aisle.
In addition to her her three graded wins at Churchill, Obligatory also owns a win in the March 12 Hurricane Bertie (G3) at Gulfstream in her season debut. She also placed at Grade 1 level twice last term, finishing second in the Acorn (G1) and Cotillion (G1). Her record now stands at 11-5-2-0, $1,228,594.
A daughter of Curlin, the Kentucky-bred Obligatory was produced by the stakes-winning Uno Duo, a Macho Uno half-sister to Prix de la Foret (G1) winner Etoile Montante.