In just a few strides at Churchill Downs on June 18, Runnymede-bred Bizzy Caroline proved she is a potent new force in the three-year-old filly division as she rocketed away from seven talented rivals to win the $138,125 Regret Stakes (G3) on turf.
The victory marked the first in stakes company for the daughter of Afleet Alex out of our Saint Ballado mare Sacre Coeur, but it was her third consecutive win—and she accomplished the feat with ease. Watch video of her victory by clicking here.
“She ran a great race,” declared trainer Ken McPeek, who also was celebrating his fifth consecutive win in a Churchill graded stakes. He said he planned to put together a target list of races for the second half of the year for Bizzy Caroline, who defeated, among others, her McPeek stablemate Kathmanblu, a Grade 2 winner and earner of $527,430.
With Runnymede Chairman Catesby W. Clay, who co-bred and owns Bizzy Caroline, watching at the track along with about a dozen family members, the filly broke well in the 1 1/8-mile Regret but was allowed to settle in fifth early by jockey Manny Cruz.
Bizzy Caroline saved ground on the inside as she tracked favorite Kathmanblu while Grade 3 winner Bouquet Booth set fractions of :24.61 and :49.19 with stakes winner Excited at her heels on a course that had been upgraded from yielding to firm.
Edging past Kathmanblu on the backstretch, Bizzy Caroline swung toward the outside as the field entered the stretch and quickly ranged up to Excited, a Giant’s Causeway filly owned by Michael Tabor and trained by Todd Pletcher who had gained a brief lead.
But the race was quickly over as Bizzy Caroline spurted away from Excited, only feeling a few taps from Cruz’s whip before she crossed the finish line with a winning margin of 2 ¼ lengths in 1:49.73. That time was nearly a second faster than older males ran the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) on dirt about a half-hour later.
“I rode her with a lot of confidence and let her tell me where she wanted to be in the race,” Cruz said. “Kenny has a lot of faith in me and didn’t give me any instructions. He just said to go do my job. I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to ride this horse. She is a nice filly.”
Bouquet Booth finished a half-length behind Excited and a head in front of fourth-placed Kathmanblu in the Regret, which is named in honor of the filly who made history in 1915 as the first of her gender to win the Kentucky Derby.
McPeek said Bizzy Caroline, who was sent off the third choice at 4.10-to-1, always indicated she could be special.
“She is a filly that just needed to mature. When she was younger, she looked like a horse that was headed in the right direction, but would need some time. The Clays are a great family and had no problem with us taking our time to develop her,” he said.
Even as a yearling, Bizzy Caroline seemed to stand out in what was a particularly star-studded group at the farm. Runnymede’s foal crop of 2008 so far includes Grade 1 winner Jaycito; Irish Group 2 winner Laughing Lashes, who was third in the recent Irish One Thousand Guineas (G1), and Grade 3 winner Rogue Romance, third in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
“Bizzy Caroline first caught my attention and looked special when I was preparing her for the September sale,” recalled Vice President and General Manager Martin O’Dowd. “Our sales prep regime is testing, to say the least, and will quickly separate the men from the boys, or in this case, the women from the girls. Bizzy Caroline always seemed to make light of the workout and each morning easily outpaced the others in her group.”
Due to a minor setback, Bizzy Caroline was not offered for sale at the yearling auction and was retained by Clay. To date, she has won three of six career starts, and the $83,070 winner’s share of the Regret purse boosted her earnings to $148,497.
Sacre Coeur was barren this year but is now in foal to Runnymede-bred Grade 1 winner Divine Park. The 11-year-old mare, a daughter of the farm’s foundation producer Kazadancoa and a winner as a juvenile, has a yearling colt by Elusive Quality.