Cox gets 100th Churchill win as Spelling Again fights back for Open Mind score
The win was number 100 for trainer Brad Cox at Churchill Downs and his first stakes triumph under the Twin Spires.
Spelling Again grabbed command soon after the start and set splits of :22.42 and :45.99 while chased by Anusara just to her outside flank. Heykittykittykitty, the 9-5 favorite, was keeping in close contact with those two a bit farther behind in third and ranged up to run in tandem with Anusara nearing the turn.
Anusara couldn’t keep pace and backed out of it, leaving Spelling Again and Heykittykittykitty to duke it out in the lane. The public’s choice gained a slim advantage to appear the winner in late stretch but Spelling Again wasn’t done yet.
The four-year-old miss fought back on the inside to regain the lead and managed to put a length between her and Heykittykittykitty on the wire while finishing up in 1:09.96 over the fast main track with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard.
Spelling Again was making her stakes debut in this spot and is now two-for-three for her trainer after the Awesome Again filly was claimed on July 17 at Santa Anita Park.
Heykittykittykitty finished second by 1 3/4 lengths over Anusara.
BRAD COX, trainer of SPELLING AGAIN (winner): “We didn’t see a whole lot of speed in the race from just looking at the form, when you’re cutting back from route races to sprints you can get the lead. I felt comfortable. Shaun (Bridgmohan) had a good hold of her and I honestly thought that she was beat at the eighth-pole, but I do know that this filly will run, she’s tough as nails. She is real, real talented.”
Q: How did you get this filly? “She was claimed in California and the guys that owned her said that they’d like to bring her back east. She’s a Pennsylvania-bred and we’re going to look at some things in Pennsylvania. Obviously this summer, you can’t really run a Pennsylvania-bred at Ellis. We looked at Indiana and then we’ll eventually navigate to Parx or Presque Isle or something with stakes so I can get black-type. She got good and we have her here, so we looked at the Locust Grove and this race and we thought this race was going to set up well. She’s a nice little filly.”
On 100th win at Churchill Downs: “It was my biggest win. We won a couple of allowance races that were good here. I think the two-year-old (Twirling Cinnamon) will run big in the stakes here (Iroquois) and we’ve got three in the stakes at Louisiana Downs so hopefully this is the beginning of a big day.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey of SPELLING AGAIN (winner): “I was just trying to see where everybody else was and I tried to make a premature move and saw that the favorite (Heykittykittykitty) was on my outside so I knew where she was so that’s why I opted to go when I did coming off of the turn.”
RON MOQUETT, trainer of Heykittykittykitty (second as the 9-5 favorite): “She ran her race. She just got beat today. She brings her race pretty consistently. I thought that she was sitting in a pretty good spot and when she was in the clear I thought she would go on. But every now and then she’ll wait on another horse, and it looked like she pulled up a touch. She waited a little bit. But I’m still proud of her. She’s a good girl.”
Spelling Again (black silks) photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography