April 20, 2024

Bell’s the One sharp in Open Mind; Played Hard, Miles Ahead win undercard Churchill stakes

Bell's The One wins the Open Mind Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

A top contender for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), Bell’s the One continued to sharpen her form when rallying last-to-first in Saturday’s $300,000 Open Mind S. at Churchill Downs. The six-year-old recorded her second consecutive stakes victory, scoring by 1 1/2 lengths in the Aug. 13 Lady Tak S. at Churchill, and the Neil Pessin-trained mare defeated her main rival, runner-up Sconsin, by a one-length margin.

Bell’s the One has now finished ahead of Sconsin in 5-of-8 meetings.

The six-furlong Open Mind was one of three stakes on the undercard of a pair of qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1), the Iroquois (G3) and Pocahontas (G3).

Open Mind S.

A pair of scratches left only three runners, and Bell’s the One was unhurried from the start with Corey Lanerie, settling about five lengths back in last through an opening quarter-mile in :22.17. Joyful Cadence sped to the front at the break, and Sconsin stalked in second before advancing to be only a head back after a half-mile :45.16.

Bell’s the One launched her bid on the far turn, and after advancing three-wide to reach a threatening position in upper stretch, she began to wear down Joyful Cadence and Sconsin, striking the front and powering clear in the final furlong.

Favored at 0.54-1, Bell’s the One stopped the teletimer in 1:09.43. The Grade 1 winner notched her 11th overall stakes victory for owner Bob Lothenbach, increasing her earnings to $2,000,675 from 27-13-5-3 career line, and Bell’s the One earned a measure of revenge after finishing second to Sconsin in last year’s Open Mind.

Joyful Cadence outfinished Sconsin for second by three-quarters of a length.

Bred in Kentucky by Bret Jones, Bell’s the One is by Majesticperfection, and she’s the second stakes winner out of the Street Cry mare Street Mate.

Pessin said if Bell’s the One tells him she needs another race, the $350,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) on Oct. 8 is an option. But he added that the classy bay mare could easily train up to the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland.

Locust Grove (G3)

Played Hard stylishly earned her first stakes triumph, romping by 5 3/4 lengths in the $400,000 Locust Grove (G3), and the ascending four-year-old filly recorded her third win from her last four outings for Rigney Racing and Philip Bauer.

Joel Rosario was up on the 2.12-1 second choice among five runners, and Played Hard vied for the lead with Crazy Beautiful before easing back to stalk in second along the backstretch. The four-year-old filly overhauled the pacesetter on the far turn, reaching the top of the stretch with a short advantage, and rolled home much the best, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.50.

The bay daughter of Into Mischief was exiting a conditioned allowance tally at Saratoga on Aug. 4, and Played Hard recorded a convincing win over entry-level allowance foes at Churchill this spring. She’s now bankrolled $612,870 from a 12-4-5-1 record.

Crazy Beautiful held second by 1 1/2 lengths over Li’l Tootsie. Gold Spirit and 1.90-1 favorite Envoutante rounded out the order,

A $280,000 yearling purchase, Played Hard was bred in Kentucky by Susan Casner, and she’s out of the Tiznow mare Well Lived, a full-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Well Armed.

Louisville Thoroughbred Society S.

Miles Ahead surged late to nail Isolate by a nose in the $265,000 Louisville Thoroughbred Society S., determinedly splitting rivals in deep stretch to prevail. Trained by Paul McGee and ridden by Martin Garcia, the five-year-old gelding turned six furlongs in 1:09.02 as the 2.73-1 third choice.

Jay Em Ess Stable campaigns Miles Ahead, who was returning from a 2 1/2-month freshening after a neck second in the July 2 Kelly’s Landing S. at Churchill, and the Grade 3 victor recorded his fourth stakes win, improving his overall scorecard to 25-12-4-1. Kentucky-bred Miles Ahead is by Competitive Edge.

Isolate, the 1.61-1 favorite following a convincing win in the restricted Tale of the Cat S. at Saratoga, saved second by a nose over late-running Necker Island on the far outside. Manny was about two more lengths back in fourth, and Top Gunner, Baytown Bear, Robo Man, and A C Expressway came next under the wire.